Prince praises pest eradication

Prince Charles was fascinated by the work New Zealanders had done to get rid of rats on islands within his Duchy of Cornwall, one of the people who did the work said yesterday.

Grovetown woman Elizabeth Bell, chief biologist for Marlborough-based company Wildlife Management International, met Prince Charles last night and talked to him about the work she had done on the Isles of Scilly.

She specialises in pest eradication on islands where there are endangered species, and also works with seabird conservation efforts.

She was the only Marlborough resident to attend a reception at Government House in Wellington last night attended by Prince Charles and hosted by Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae.

Ms Bell said Prince Charles was extremely interested in her work, and thoroughly supported the rat eradication work on the Isles of Scilly. Ms Bell did the feasibility study for the eradication work, carried out by the British conservation organisation the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

He also spent time talking to her about her work with black petrels on Great Barrier Island and about a proposed albatross transfer between islands in the Chathams.

"I told him he really should launch that work - it'll be the first time it's been done. He said he'd love to but his time was so constrained, it would never be allowed.

"He said he fell in love with albatrosses when he was in the Royal Navy, serving on a ship."

Ms Bell said it was exciting to meet Prince Charles, and he was interested in what was being done.

"It was a real honour to be selected to go to this. We do some pretty amazing work."

Last night's reception was for Prince Charles to meet a group of New Zealanders working in a range of conservation areas, particularly with seabirds, kiwi and kakapo. It was announced at the event that he had agreed to become patron of the Southern Seabirds Solutions Trust.

The trust includes representatives from the New Zealand seafood industry and government, WWF and Te Ohu Kaimoana. It takes a co-operative approach to seabird conservation and supports and encourages fishers in Southern Ocean fleets to adopt responsible practices to reduce sea bird bycatch from commercial fishing.

The Marlborough Express