This Rare Giant Stick Insect Stayed in a Secret Hideaway for 80 years

This Rare Giant Stick Insect Stayed in a Secret Hideaway for 80 years

Also called the “land lobster”, the Lord Howe Island stick insect was believed to be extinct for many years until its rediscovery in 2001.

The species, which inhabits the small volcanic island of Lord Howe in the Tasman Sea northeast of Syndey, Australia, was found to be abundant in the island until 1918. At that time, a ship known as “Makembo” introduced black rats to the island which preyed on the giant stick insects. Reportedly, the Lord Howe Island stick insects became extinct after becoming the rats’ favourite meal.

PHOTO CREDIT: Npr.org

PHOTO CREDIT: Npr.org

A nearby island called “Balls Pyramid” was explored by a group of climbers in 1964. These climbers claimed to have seen corpses of the giant stick insects on rocks that appear to have died recently. They even took pictures of the corpses as evidence.

PHOTO CREDIT: Npr.org

PHOTO CREDIT: Npr.org

In 2001, a group of researchers decided to take a further look into the island. David Priddel, Nicholas Carlile, and their two assistants rediscovered about 24 adult insects feeding on bush. The big mystery is how they got to the island as the rocky outcrop is almost inaccessible.

It felt like stepping back into the Jurassic age, when insects ruled the world,” said Carlile.

After two years, the team agreed to go back and collect the giant stick insects to establish a breeding population in Melbourne Zoo. The researchers are hoping to reintroduce the breeding population back to Lord Howe Island.

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Still, the presence of black rats remains to be the biggest threat to the lives of the giant stick insects if they will be brought back to Lord Howe Island. Meanwhile, the small population in Balls Pyramid are also in danger because of lack of food, environmental conditions such as rock falls, droughts, and storms, as well as poachers.

The government’s intends to totally eradicate about 130,000 rats in the conservation area of the Island by 2015 through a AU$9 million project.

Believed by many as the rarest insect in the world, the species was declared by the IUCN Red List as “Critically Endangered”.

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mmalabanan
mmalabanan 540 posts

Mini is a work-at-home mom from Laguna. Aside from writing, she's passionate about breastfeeding and homeschooling.

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