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Saunders Island


51° 22′ S


60° 05′ W


Saunders Island is the second largest offshore island in the Falklands archipelago. It is 12,400 Hectares in area and its highest points are Mt Richards (1462ft/457m), Mt Harston (1421ft/426m), Rookery Mountain (1384ft/415m), Mt Rees and Mt Egmont. Saunders Settlement and airstrip are at the eastern end of the island, about 10 miles from the usual Zodiac landing at The Neck. The white sand landing beaches lead to steep grazed slopes of tussac, grass and upland heath.  The island is privately owned by A. R. and D. L. Pole-Evans and has been managed as a working sheep farm for many years.


The Island was The site of the British fort, Port Egmont, established in 1765, named after the then First Lord of The Admiralty, whilst the island was named after Admiral Sir Charles Saunders who became First Lord of the Admiralty a few years later. Extensive sealing for both fur and elephant seals took place on the island, and a sealers’ trypot can be seen at The Neck.


The lower areas are mostly grasses which have been affected by grazing and peat fires. There are still some remnants of tussac (Poa flabellata). The upland areas are rich in native flora, which consists of feldmark formation and upland heath species, such as diddle dee (Empetrum rubrum) and fachine (Chiliotrichum diffusum)



There are gentoo colonies on the beach, a small colony of king penguin, and it is possible to walk above the steep cliffs which provide habitat for black-browed albatross and rockhopper penguin.

Confirmed breeders: black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophrys), rockhopper penguin (Eudyptes chrysocome), gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis papua), magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus), canary-winged/black-throated finch (Melanodera melanodera), ruddy-headed goose (Chloephaga rubidiceps), Falkland steamer duck (Tachyeres brachypterus).


A few southern sea lion (Otaria flavescens) and the occasional South American fur seal (Arctocephalus australis) haul out on the island.

Confirmed breeders: Up to five southern elephant seal pups (Mirounga leonina)are born annually at Elephant Point, and this area is also a favorite haul-out for adults, especially during molting. The island has populations of feral cats (Felis catus), house mice (Mus musculus ), brown rats (Rattus norvegicus ) and some rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus). Because of the island’s size and its varied habitat, it is unlikely to be cleared of introduced predators in the near future.

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