A year ago when I arrived here by helicopter with researchers Colin Donihue and Anthony Herrel, this small Caribbean island was a moonscape. A mile long, Redonda is a rock nub protruding up from the sea; its steep, windy cliffs dropping into the sapphire water below.
Accounts from various explorers indicate that over the last century its surface had been gradually eaten bare of vegetation by invasive goats. Guano miners in the 1800s may have brought the animals as a source of fresh meat, although there’s mention of goats as early as 1745. The island we saw was also overrun with rats, likely survivors of shipwrecks, which would eat just about anything the goats didn’t—including at least two of the three species of lizards found only here.