The Lord Howe Island Stick Insect, Dryococelus australis, was driven to the brink of extinction by Black Rats in the early twentieth century. However, in 2001 it was rediscovered on Balls Pyramid, a rat-free volcanic outcrop 23 km off the coast of Lord Howe Island.
The seas around Balls Pyramid are too rough to land a boat. However, a rescue team leapt ashore in 2003 and brought two breeding pairs of Lord Howe Island Stick Insects back to mainland Australia.
At the time of their rediscovery, very little was known about Lord Howe Island Stick Insects. Melbourne Zoo plays a important role in the captive breeding of this Critically Endangered species.
Adult Lord Howe Island Stick Insects are wingless and nocturnal, feeding only on one species of shrub. The one remaining population only has 20-30 individuals.
Melbourne Zoo staff continue to conduct intensive research into stick insect diet, behaviour and biology, as well as maintaining the largest captive breeding program for this species.
Our key aims for the recovery of this species are to: