A visit to Zannone ten years after rat eradication

A visit to Zannone ten years after rat eradication

5 April 2017

On 5 April we went to Zannone to visit the sites where a fence will be realized to protect the holm oak forest from mouflons. Ten years have passed since rats have been eradicated from the island, it was therefore the occasion to observe some interesting changes happened since then (with due caution and waiting for further evidence):

- the undergrowth in the holm oak forest denoted a remarkable development of Arisarum vulgare, that does not seem attractive to mouflons. This apparent increase may have been favored by the elimination of rats, which in other contexts are reported to consume the bulbs of this plant.

- we noticed the presence of many holm oak acorns on the ground, unlike the past when they were probably consumed by rats; on the contrary, we did not observe any young oak seedlings, maybe due to the presence of wild mouflons;

- regarding island wildlife, there seems to have been an increase in lizard population (Podarcis sicula patricians, an endemic subspecies), maybe favored by the absence of rats;

All these observations need further confirmation but are very important to monitor the conservation state of of the island.