Chañaral Island belongs to a Natural Reserve that supports 80% of the world’s population of the globally threatened Humboldt Penguin—a burrow nesting seabird that is sensitive to habitat disturbance. Chañaral is thought to have been home to as many as 100,000 pairs of the Critically Endangered Peruvian Diving Petrel, a species that was extirpated from Chañaral after foxes were introduced to the island in 1941. The continued presence and impacts of rabbits prevent them from recolonizing.
Invasive rabbits on Chañaral Island are destroying the ecosystem by occupying seabird burrows, increasing erosion, and browsing on vegetation. Fortunately, invasive rabbits can be removed from Chañaral Island. This will result in a greater number of nest sites available for vulnerable species, including Humboldt Penguins and Peruvian Diving-petrels. This one-time action will immediately benefit native plant and animal species and ignite long-term recovery of the island’s ecosystem. Island Conservation and local partners are assisting CONAF in removing invasive rabbits from Chañaral Island after a successful project that left Choros Island—part of the same Reserve—free of invasive rabbits in 2014.
(sometimes referred to as
) is located 6 km off-shore from the northern Central Chilean coast, some 100 km north of the city of
. Together with Isla Choros and Isla Damas, the island forms the
Humboldt Penguin National Reserve
, which is administered by the Chilean Forestry Corporation (CONAF). All three islands support populations of
, but are also habitat for several other rare and endangered animal species such as the
Peruvian diving petrel
or the South American
. In recent years the reserve has experienced a strong increase in tourist activities, mainly due to the presence of
that reside in the waters of the reserve. However, recently local fishermen reported increasing spells of dolphin absence which scientist believe might be connected to disturbance from these largely unregulated activities.
Isla Chañaral is the biggest of the reserve’s islands. Access to the island restricted by permit only. The island consists of two plateau levels. The main plateau between 50 and 70 meters above sea level is divided into a western and an eastern part by a second high plateau (>100 m). The vegetation of the plateaus differs considerably. While the main plateau is dominated by shrub and cacti the high plateau has a barren appearance with only few small cactus aggregations.
Contacts & Resources
Original data record from World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) via ProtectedPlanet.net [view record on site].