Save St Helena’s invertebrate animals

This video says about itself:

Saint Helena – named after St Helena of Constantinople, is an island of volcanic origin in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is part of the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha[2] which also includes Ascension Island and the islands of Tristan da Cunha. Saint Helena measures about 16 by 8 kilometres (10 by 5 mi) and has a population of 4,255 (2008 census).

The island has a history of over 500 years since it was first discovered as an uninhabited island by the Portuguese in 1502. Britain’s second oldest remaining colony (after Bermuda), Saint Helena is one of the most isolated islands in the world and was for several centuries of vital strategic importance to ships sailing to Europe from Asia and South Africa. For several centuries, the British used the island as a place of exile, most notably for Napoleon Bonaparte, Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo and over 5,000 Boer prisoners.

From Wildlife Extra:

Conserving globally threatened bugs on the UK Overseas Territory of St Helena.

Bugs on the brink – Conserving St Helena’s invertebrates

June 2013. Wildlife charity, Buglife – The Invertebrate Conservation Trust, has launched a 3-year ‘Bugs on the Brink’ project, on the UK Overseas Territory of St Helena. Many of St Helena’s unique invertebrates are on the brink of extinction, with some of its most iconic species, such as the Giant earwig, feared lost within living memory. Funded by the Darwin Initiative, the project will help to conserve St Helena’s globally threatened invertebrates. This is the first time that anyone has set out to create a long-term plan for conserving St Helena’s invertebrates.

400 endemic invertebrates

St Helena is one of the UK’s ‘Overseas Territories’, lying in the South Atlantic Ocean, mid-way between Africa and South America. It is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world and, for now, can only be reached by boat. The island’s flora and fauna evolved in extreme isolation, resulting in more than 400 invertebrate species found nowhere else on Earth. For this reason, St Helena has been called the ‘Galapagos of the South Atlantic’.


Unfortunately, following its discovery by sailors in 1502, St Helena suffered immense environmental destruction, caused by introduced livestock and forest clearance. Today, much of the island’s unique wildlife is threatened with extinction. Iconic invertebrates such as the Giant earwig (Labidura herculeana), Giant ground beetle (Aplothorax burchelli) and St Helena darter (a dragonfly – Sympetrum dilatatum) are believed lost within living memory. The remnants of the native flora and fauna are struggling to survive in habitat fragments, which occupy a tiny fraction of their original area. They also face a wide range of pressures from non-native plants and animals.

The ‘Bugs on the Brink’ project aims to support invertebrate conservation in the long-term, by training local staff, helping to restore native habitats, teaching school children of the vital role played by invertebrates, and raising public awareness of the special place invertebrates have in St Helena’s natural heritage. This work will help St Helena meet future challenges, such as the airport construction and associated expansion of tourism and development. It is hoped that invertebrates can play their part in supporting sustainable eco-tourism, on an island that is surely one of the jewels in the crown of UK biodiversity. The ‘Bugs on the Brink’ project will run until January 2016.

Vicky Kindemba, Buglife Conservation Delivery Manager said ‘It is so important for us to be working with local conservationists, St Helena Government and the people of St Helena (known as Saints). Only together can we forge a long-term future for its unique biodiversity.’

10 thoughts on “Save St Helena’s invertebrate animals

  1. During a stay on the island from late December 2005 to early March 2006, Myrtle and Philip Ashmole – together with their colleague Howard Mendel – carried out a field survey of the invertebrates of the Peaks. While still on the island they wrote a series of articles reporting on some of the more striking animals that they found. Since returning to the UK they have been working to identify more of the species in the samples. This is a massive and time consuming task requiring research and involving the assistance of specialists to confirm identifications for some of the diverse taxonomic groups.


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