Five adults and two young boys signed up for a 6 weeks summer program on Sonsorol Island. The initial plan was to recruit 30 people to spread them out on the three main islands, Sonsorol, Pulo Anna and Meriil, but the Belau Games, and other activities in Koror held back many who had planned to participate. Although only seven people participated in the summer program, they were able to accomplish quite a lot. Several projects were carried out as follows:
1) Mosquito and ants surveys were conducted by Governor Miles assisted by Ms. Lea Josol. Samples were sent to Mr. Aidil Rahman, entomologist at the Department of Environmental Health. Mr. Rahman, locally known as Mur, was able to identify and confirm the presence of Aedes (Stegomyia) helsilli on the island of Sonsorol. Aedes helsilli is a potential vector for dengue and zika virus.
The ant survey confirmed the presence of Singapore ants, a destructive type of ant, on Pulo Anna Island. This ant is known to be present on Hatohobei and Helen’s Reef islands and several other states in Palau. The State Office provided Amdro, ant poison, effective control for this type of ants to the people of the islands.
2) Dr. Joel Miles conducted invasive species survey on all the islands. His survey showed significant Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (CRB) damage on Sonsorol Island and devastating damage on Fanna Island where CRB have killed all the coconut trees. CRB damage was also evident on Meriil island but not too badly. Meanwhile Pulo Anna was found clean of CRB. Specimens of the coconut rhinoceros beetles were collected and submitted to Palau Community College (PCC) for DNA identification. Rat damage was also a big problem. It was evident with coconut fruit damage on Sonsorol and Meriil islands. A couple of invasive plants were noted but did not pose too much trouble.
Three other projects were initiated by the Summer Program Team: 1) CRB Maruw Control Program – The team cleared forest growth away from residences and instituted the use of net traps. At this writing effort has begun through the Bureau of Agriculture to acquire Oryctes nudivirus to help control the CRB spread and reduce the damage it causes. 2) Fruit Fly Control Project – The Bureau of Agriculture officers traveled to Sonsorol Island and set up fruit fly bait stations, and at the same time trained island residents on how to care for the baits and the traps. Bait supplies were provided to locals so that they can be replaced every 3 to 6 months. 3) School building clean up and repainting – On rainy days the team met at the Sonsorol Elementary School and cleaned inside and outside the building; cleaned the school compound; scrubbed the rusty student desks; washed louvers and repainted half of the building. At the end of the summer the team had repainted and hung up the school sign. In addition to these major projects, the team also performed village sanitation and beautification activities. Examples: plastic trash, bottles, etc. were collected and disposed of properly; coconut shells were collected and burned to prevent mosquito breeding; and trees were trimmed and flowers were planted.
We thank the Bureau of Agriculture, Director Fred Sengebau, Mr. Malas Termeteet and Mr. Sadang Osarch; Dr. Joel E. Miles; and the summer program team: Huana Sapemang, Dora Selbart, Alexandra Patris, Blaine Patris and Harry Jonas. Finally, Haparu ma hatawahi dewa to the residents of Sonsorol Island for their generosity and hospitality which made the summer program a great success. [/restrict]