Seabird numbers on a rocky British island are soaring after predatory rats were exterminated there.
The £50,000 project to get rid of 40,000 rats on the island of Lundy, off the coast of Devon, was introduced when puffin numbers fell to fewer than ten pairs at the turn of the millennium.
Now experts have counted 375 of the native birds on the island, while the population of Manx shearwaters has grown from 297 pairs to 5,504.
Puffins almost became extinct on Lundy, after rats were eating all their eggs, but now numbers have recovered
The total number of seabirds, once seriously endangered by rats eating their eggs and chicks, has tripled since the island was declared rat-free in 2006.
Helen Booker, of the RSPB, said: ‘This study clearly shows how quickly and positively seabirds respond to the removal of non-native predators.
‘Of course we had anticipated major population increases, but the scale of this recovery has far exceeded our expectations.’
Lundy warden Dean Jones said: ‘It is exciting to see this level of recovery. In spring the island comes alive at night with the sound of these amazing birds.’
There are now 375 birds on the island, after the population fell to fewer than 20 in 2000.