Conservation of the Hungarian meadow viper Vipera ursinii rakosiensis.
International Zoo Yearbook 49: 89–103, January 2015. ISSN 0074-9644. DOI: 10.1111/izy.12088
In order to stop the decline of Hungarian meadow viper Vipera ursinii rakosiensis, in 2004 MME BirdLife Hungary together with national parks and Budapest Zoo started a complex conservation programme, supported by the European Union LIFE-Nature fund. The Hungarian Meadow Viper Conservation Centre was established with 16 adult individuals, collected from six different populations. By 2013 the number of vipers bred reached c. 1700 individuals. First reintroductions took place in March 2010, with 30 adult snakes released into a reconstructed habitat in Kiskunság National Park. By 2013, a total of 240 snakes had been released into three locations. Snakes were released by relocating the animals in the artificial burrows they used in the semi-natural terrariums at the Hungarian Meadow Viper Conservation Centre. At the release sites vipers were recorded 255 times during post-release monitoring, and 69 individuals were identified. Eighteen of the observed ♀♀ were gravid, and ten juvenile or subadult individuals were documented. In order to develop a remote-tracking method, pre-programmed radio-tags with a detection range of 200–300 m were surgically implanted into the abdomens of 16 vipers. These tags also operated as temperature loggers, recording data every 5 minutes for one year. Zoos play an important role in communicating the results of this captive-breeding and release programme. Exhibits of live Hungarian meadow vipers are located at Budapest Zoo and Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria, and there are information points about the species located in all Hungarian zoos.