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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, August 31) – Bird watching tours, a form of tourism that has grown in popularity throughout the world, will now be available on Vatu-i-Ra island, says the BirdLife International Pacific representative, Don Stewart.

This follows the eradication of black rats that had posed a major threat to seabirds nesting on the island.

Mr Stewart said a team organised by BirdLife International visited the island for several days in July placing specially prepared bait to eradicate the rats.

"A monitoring team, led by Dr Dick Watling, made a return visit to Vatu-i-Ra last week and was unable to find any trace of live rats. This was most encouraging for when they arrived on the island in July, it was over run by rats," Mr Stewart said.

Vatu-i-Ra is a small 2.3-hectare island located 16 kilometres off the north east coast of Viti Levu and is home to a significant number of breeding seabirds. The island has been identified by BirdLife as an "important bird area".

August 31, 2006

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