Robben Island in Table Bay 12 km north of Cape Town, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years in prison during apartheid, is overrun by rabbits. The situation has become so serious that marksmen have now been brought in to eliminate the animals, the New York Times reports.

The problem first came to public notice late 2008 and the island, a World Heritage site and a major tourist attraction, was subsequently closed to visitors and thousands of rabbits were captured and killed. However the population has continued to increase, burrowing under historic buildings and destroying the island