Finally in 2001 a handful of Australian scientists risked their lives in the darkness, and a few hundred feet above the waves they located a population of 24 of the famed Lord Howe stick insects eking a living on a few plants, which in turn were precariously growing in some cracks in the rock. After more exploration, they ascertained that these were the only stick insects on Ball’s Pyramid. Imagine that, the last 24 individuals left in the whole world of a species living there in an environment that could be wiped out any day by a rock slide!
The insects managed to survive a few more years while the scientist battled the red tape of the Australian government before returning in 2003 to remove two pairs for breeding. Today there are more than 11,000 descendants from those breeding pairs, and there are even plans to wipe out the rat infestation on Lord Howe and reintroduce the stick insects. Whether these plans will come to fruition is unknown, but the species has come back from the brink thanks to a few daring and motivated scientists, and thanks to many generations of insects that clung tenaciously to life for 80 years or more on the windswept spire of Ball’s Pyramid.
If you like this blog you can have links to each week's posts delivered to your e-mail address. Please click here.