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British Overseas Territories

Episode 17 of 24

Howard Stableford looks at conservation issues in some of the British Overseas Territories.

Howard Stableford is in the chair for this Christmas Day Saving Species. On this day our thoughts are about spending time at home with our family, so for this week's episode Howard is looking at the UK's extended family with a programme on conservation in some of the British Overseas Territories.

We report on the news that a rare and highly endangered frog from Monserrat and Dominica in the Caribbean has successfully bred in London Zoo. Ed Drewitt discusses with Dr Ian Stephen this last chance conservation effort to save the Mountain chicken frog threatened with the Chytrid fungus; a disease fatal to 2/3 of all amphibians.

From tropical seas to the windswept island of S Georgia where the largest rat eradication project in the world is about to happen. Team Rat set off in January to save the albatrosses and petrels that nest on the sub-Antarctic eden from being eaten by rodents.

Howard discusses the establishment of marine conservation areas around the overseas territories with Alistair Gammell of the PEW Foundation. Overseas Territories are not just the land itself, it includes the seas that surround them for 200 nautical miles and include some of the richest seas in the world. Howard then questions the DEFRA Minister for Biodiversity, Richard Benyon, what the UK plans to do to help protect the precious places that make up British Overseas Territories.

Presenter Howard Stableford
Producer Mary Colwell
Editor Julian Hector.

Available now

28 minutes

British Overseas Territories

The United Kingdom has responsibility for 14 Overseas Territories, which are spread throughout the globe and support a diverse range of ecosystems and habitats, and sustain a large number of rare and threatened species.


In October, Environment Minister Richard Benyon announced that Britain’s Overseas Territories will be preserved through a Government fund of around £2 million a year.  The 'Overseas Territories Environment and Climate Fund' is dedicated to environmental and conservation projects in the UK’s OTs.

South Georgia

South Georgia

One of the 14 British Overseas Territories is South Georgia in the southern Atlantic Ocean.  South Georgia is home to a variety of species such as the Elephant Seal and the Albatross, however there is one species which is due to be completely eradicated from the island - the brown rat.


Brown rats were first introduced to the island through sealing boats in the late 18th Century and with no natural predators the population quickly multiplied.  Feeding on the chicks and eggs of ground-nesting birds, the rats have depleted the population of birds such as the South Georgia pipit and the South Georgia pintail.


The project set up to eradicate brown rats from the island, dubbed 'Team Rat' was directed by Professor Tony Martin, an expert in animal conservation from the University of Dundee.  Tony is on right of photo with reporter Howard Stableford.

The Mountain Chicken

The Mountain Chicken

Despite its name, the Mountain Chicken (Leptodactylus fallax) is in fact one of the world's largest frogs.  So named because its meat is said to taste like chicken, sadly it is one of the world's most threatened frog species. Formerly found on a variety of Caribbean islands, now the Mountain Chicken is only found on two, Montserrat and Dominica.


The dramatic decline of the species is due to a number of factors including human consumption, habitat loss and fungal disease.  In order to rebuild numbers, a range of zoos, including London Zoo, are taking part in captive breeding programmes.


Image courtesy of the Zoological Society of London.


  • Christmas Day 2012 11:30
  • Thu 27 Dec 2012 21:00

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