Management of reintroduced lions in small, fenced reserves in South Africa:an assessment and guidelines.
South African Journal of Wildlife Research 43(2): 138–154.
Managers of African lions (Panthera leo) on reserves where they have been reintroduced increasingly face challenges associated with ecological regulation, genetic degradation and increased susceptibility to catastrophic events. The Lion Management Forum (LiMF) was formed in 2010 to define these challenges and explore possible solutions with the view to developing appropriate management guidelines. LiMF bases its recommendations on the ecologically sound premise that managers should, as far as possible, mimic natural processes that have broken down in reserves, using proactive rather than reactive methods, i.e. management should focus on causal mechanisms as opposed to reacting to symptoms. Specifically, efforts should be made to reduce population growth and thus reduce the number of excess lions in the system; disease threats should be reduced through testing and vaccination whenever animals are translocated; and genetic integrity should be monitored. The latter is particularly important, as most of these reserves are relatively small (typically<1000 km2). An adaptive management framework is needed to implement the guidelines developed here on reserves across the country, with regional nodes addressing more local genetic issues, within an overall national plan. Ongoing monitoring and scientific assessment of behavioural, population and systemic responses of lion populations and responsive modification of the guidelines, should improve management of lions on small reserves in South Africa. This approach will provide a template for evidence-based conservation management of other threatened species. Ultimately ‘National Norms and Standards’ must be established and a ‘National Action Plan’ for lions in South Africa developed.
Lessons from the introduces Black rhino population in Pilanesberg National Park.
Pachyderm 26: 40-51
Due to the drastic decline in black rhino numbers, several rhino range states took steps to translocate rhino to secure areas with suitable habitat within their former range. The aim was to build-up remaining black rhino numbers as rapidly as possible, to preserve their genetic diversity in the long tern, and to provide the biggest possible buffer against future potential poaching losses.
However the re-introductions and management of these new populations has not been entirely straightforward. The translocation process needed to be perfected and new problems arose in the introduced populations which required careful consideration.
The black rhino in Pilanesberg National Park South Africa is an introduced population which, through intensive and ongoing monitoring, has improved our understanding of rhino population characteristics currently influencing the conservation goals for black rhino.
Pilanesberg National Park was proclaimed in 1979. It covers 550km2 of rocky hills and broad alluvial valleys in a weathered alkaline volcano. The summer rainfall averages 637mm annually. Black rhino introductions occurred in several stages, beginning in 1981, and involved 24 animals in total. By the start of 1996, the population had grown to 42 animals, and in June that year Pilanesberg became a donor reserve when nine black rhino were translocated to Madikwe Game Reserve. This paper summarises the history and characteristics of the Pilanesberg population up to this stage.
A Note on the Reestablishment of the Cheetah Population in the Pilanesberg National Park, South Africa.
African Journal of Wildlife Research 49: 12-15. DOI: 10.3957/056.049.0012.
The establishment of protected areas is recognized as a means to conserve large mammal species, and cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) conservation is well served by these protected areas. In South Africa, if not in one of the larger national parks (>10 000 km2) or free-roaming in the northern provinces, populations of cheetahs occur in medium-sized reserves and form part of a managed metapopulation where periodic transfers of individuals occur between them to retain genetic integrity. The Pilanesberg National Park is one such reserve within the managed metapopulation. Here, we firstly document the reproductive success of a single reintroduced female cheetah and, secondly, discuss the population’s recovery in the context of the managed metapopulation.
Management of reintroduced lions in small, fenced reserves in South Africa: an assessment and guidelines.
South African Journal of Wildlife Research 43(2): 138–154 (October 2013)
Managers of African lions (Panthera leo) on reserves where they have been reintroduced increasingly face challenges associated with ecological regulation, genetic degradation and increased susceptibility to catastrophic events. The Lion Management Forum (LiMF) was formed in 2010 to define these challenges and explore possible solutions with the view to developing appropriate management guidelines. LiMF bases its recommendations on the ecologically sound premise that managers should, as far as possible, mimic natural processesthat have broken down in reserves, using proactive rather than reactive methods, i.e. management should focus on causal mechanisms as opposed to reacting to symptoms. Specifically, efforts should be made to reduce population growth and thus reduce the number of excess lions in the system; disease threats should be reduced through testing and vaccination whenever animals are translocated; and genetic integrity should be monitored.The latter is particularly important, as most of these reserves are relatively small (typically <1000 km2). An adaptive management framework is needed to implement the guidelines developed here on reserves across the country, with regional nodes addressing more localgenetic issues, within an overall national plan. Ongoing monitoring and scientific assessment of behavioural, population and systemic responses of lion populations and responsive modification of the guidelines, should improve management of lions on small reserves in South Africa. This approach will provide a template for evidence-based conservationmanagement of other threatened species. Ultimately ‘National Norms and Standards’ must be established and a ‘National Action Plan’ for lions in South Africa developed.
The Iberian lynx Lynx pardinus Conservation Breeding Program
Int. Zoo Yb.(2008)42:190–198
The Iberian Lynx Conservation Breeding Program follows a multidisciplinary approach, integrated within the National Strategy for the Conservation of the Iberian lynx, which is carried out in cooperation with national, regional and international institutions. The main goals ofthe ex situ conservation programme are to:
- maintain agenetically and demographically managed captive population;
- create new Iberian lynx Lynx pardinus free-ranging populations through re-introduction.
To achieve the first goal, the Conservation Breeding Program aims to maintain 85% of the genetic diversity presently found in the wild for the next 30 years. This requires developing and maintaining 60–70 Iberian lynx as breeding stock. Growth projections indicate that the ex situ programme should achieve such a population target by the year 2010. Once this goal is reached, re-introduction efforts could begin. Thus, currentex situ efforts focus on producing psychologically and physically sound captive-born individuals. To achieve this goal, we use management and research techniques that rely on multidisciplinary input and knowledge generated on species’ life history, behaviour, nutrition, veterinary and health aspects, genetics, reproductive physiology, endocrinology and ecology. Particularly important is adapting our husbandry schemes based on research data to promote natural behaviours in captivity (hunting, territoriality, social interactions) and a stress-free environment that is conducive to natural reproduction.
The Genetic Integrity of the Ex Situ Population of the European Wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris) Is Seriously Threatened by Introgression from Domestic Cats (Felis silvestris catus).
PLoS ONE 9(8): e106083. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0106083
Studies on the genetic diversity and relatedness of zoo populations are crucial for implementing successful breeding programmes. The European wildcat, Felis s. silvestris, is subject to intensive conservation measures, including captive breeding and reintroduction. We here present the first systematic genetic analysis of the captive population of Felis s. silvestris in comparison with a natural wild population. We used microsatellites and mtDNA sequencing to assess genetic diversity, structure and integrity of the ex situ population. Our results show that the ex situ population of the European wildcat is highly structured and that it has a higher genetic diversity than the studied wild population. Some genetic clusters matched the breeding lines of certain zoos or groups of zoos that often exchanged individuals. Two mitochondrial haplotype groups were detected in the in situ populations, one of which was closely related to the most common haplotype found in domestic cats, suggesting past introgression in the wild. Although native haplotypes were also found in the captive population, the majority (68%) of captive individuals shared a common mtDNA haplotype with the domestic cat (Felis s. catus). Only six captive individuals (7.7%) were assigned as wildcats in the STRUCTURE analysis (at K = 2), two of which had domestic cat mtDNA haplotypes and only two captive individuals were assigned as purebred wildcats by NewHybrids. These results suggest that the high genetic diversity of the captive population has been caused by admixture with domestic cats. Therefore, the captive population cannot be recommended for further breeding and reintroduction.
Grundlagen für ein Erhaltungszucht-Programm für die nördliche Batagur-Schildkröte Batagur baska (Gray, 1830) (Reptilia: Testudines: Geoemydidae).
148 Bl. : Zsfassungen (2 Bl.) ; Ill., graph. Darst.
Graz, Univ., Masterarb., 2015
Zur Erhaltung der hochgradig gefährdeten nördlichen Batagur-Schildkröte (Batagur baska) ist ein umfassender Managementplan notwendig, damit ein gesundes weiteres Überleben der Tiere und eine spätere Auswilderung möglich ist. In der vorliegenden Arbeit wird zuerst ein Überblick über den aktuellen Bestand, sowie zu Biologie, Gefährdung, Schutz und Zuchterfolge gegeben. Zur Dokumentation aller vorhandenen Daten der Individuen in menschlicher Obhut, ein „Studbook“ (Zuchtbuch) konzipiert, womit es in Zukunft auch leichter möglich sein wird, Analysen der Populationsentwicklung zu erstellen und Änderungen des Bestandes und der Struktur nachzuverfolgen. Darauf aufbauend wurde mithilfe des Programms VORTEX eine PVA (Population Viability Analysis) für diese Art durchgeführt, bei der verschiedene Modelle zur Überlebensfähigkeit der Populationen berechnet wurden. Aufgrund der unzureichenden Datenlage sind die Ergebnisse dieser Modelle aber nur bedingt aussagekräftig. Für den Entwurf zukünftiger Vorgehensweisen wurden Fragestellungen formuliert, deren Beantwortung für einen strukturierten Managementplan erforderlich ist. Vor allem die Klärung der Verwandtschaftsverhältnisse von Zuchttieren untereinander sowie genetischer regionaler Unterschiede ist für eine Erstellung von geeigneten Zuchtplänen dringend notwendig. Des Weiteren wurden anhand umfassender Literaturrecherchen und mit aktuellen Erkenntnissen aus genetischen Analysen konkrete Handlungsempfehlungen abgeleitet. Generell kann gesagt werden, dass Batagur baska innerhalb eines Erhaltungszuchtprogramms wahrscheinlich eine genügend hohe Gendiversität erhalten kann, um nicht durch Inzuchtdepression vom Aussterben bedroht zu sein. Die Frage, ob noch genügend genetische Variabilität für eine erfolgreiche Wiederansiedelung vorhanden ist, kann hingegen aufgrund der vorliegenden Daten nicht beantwortet werden.
For preservation of the rare and threatened turtle species Batagur baska a comprehensive management plan is necessary, so that a healthy survival and subsequent reintroduction is possible. For this purpose, an overview of the current population size, as well as a summary of the biology, hazards, protection and breeding success of the species is given. For documentation of all individuals in captivity, an International Studbook is created to facilitate subsequent analyses of populations and record and track changes of the structure of the population therein. Based on this data, the program VORTEX was used to conduct a PVA (population viability analysis), where various models with different input parameters were calculated. Due to insufficient data, the results of these models are only of limited significance. For the development of future conservation strategies, the most important open questions were identified. The clarification of relationships between the breeding animals and a better knowledge concerning regional differences of the genetic variability is essential for the establishment of suitable breeding plans. Furthermore, additional recommendations for species protection were derived from literature data and by evaluating results of the genomic analyses. Batagur baska is likely to maintain sufficient genetic diversity within a conservation breeding program in order to avoid the threat of extinction because of inbreeding depression. However, it remains unclear whether the genetic variability is sufficient for a successful reintroduction of the species in the wild.
Il recupero dello storione cobice in Italia - ACTION PLAN -Progetto Life 04NAT/IT/000126 "Conservation and Breeding of Italian Cobice Endemic Sturgeon".
160 Seiten. DOI: 10.13140/2.1.1085.7286.
In the Italian waters there were historicaly three species of sturgeon: Huso huso (Beluga sturgeon), Acipenser sturio (common sturgeon) and Acipenser naccarii (Cobice sturgeon). The first two species are considered as locally extinct, while the Cobice sturgeon is still signalled, even if seldom. There is moreover a population of this species banished to the fresh waters of the Tessin river, an affluent of the Po river, due to the building of the barrage of Serafini Island on the Po river. The main reason that brought the Cobice sturgeon to the danger of extinction is the eccessive fishing pression. Just in recent times legislation protected all three species, completely forbidding their fishing. Different factors contributed to the decline of population, among them the interruption of the fluvial continuity which, preventing the going back up of some intervals of rivers reduced the number of reproductive sites. The biological cycle of the Cobice sturgeon is very long, male specimens reach sexual maturity at 7-11 years of age, with a total length of at least 80 cm, and female specimens at 12-14 years of age, with a length of at least 1 m. The Cobice sturgeon has been object of numerous studies and projects, both of research and conservative. During the years, single Administrations on the whole territory, in particular in Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna, have been engaged in local conservation interventions, even with repopulation programs. The population restricted to fresh waters of Tessin has then been object of a specific conservation program guided by the Lombardy Park of the Tessin Valley and co-financed by the European Community through the project LIFE03NAT/IT/000113. Only with the project LIFE04NAT/IT/000126 a common and coordinated commitment on a big area has been started, almost the areale of distribution of the species. This project that lasted three years involved Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna. The involvement of regional Bodies, Parks and Province Authorities of three regions has represented a successful prerequisite, as the Cobice sturgeon moves and migrates on a big area, not belongig to a unique jurisdition. The project realization was possible thanks to three solid fundamentals: the experience of the Public Authorities, the availability of a stock of Cobice sturgeon, the gained and consolidated technology for its reproduction and breeding. The stock specimens were captured in the 1970s in the same project area and since then maintained in captivity. This stock and its descendants built the only and fundamental tank for the species rescue. All specimens now kept ex-situ, both by public authorities and private citizens, come from that original centre, whose specimens, still living, are bred and belong to the Azienda VIP of Orzinuovi in Lombardy, breeding site with CITES authorization. The technology for the reproduction and breeding in all life stages of the Cobice sturgeon was worked out in the same facility that was the first to realize the bloodless reproduction of A. naccarii in the 1980s. Afterwards, thanks to the LIFE project, artificial reproduction was carried out also at the public centre of Quinto di Treviso, in Veneto. Thanks to the project LIFE04NAT/IT/000126 the genetic characterization of a part of the specimens kept ex-situ has been carried out and a crioconservation technique of the seed of the Cobice sturgeon has been worked out realizing the germoplasm bank. Thanks to the reproductions of the two breeding centres, an important repopulation effort has been performed. Seeding of 66,038 Cobice sturgeon specimens has been carried out: 17,038 of them had an average length of 50 cm and an average weight of 900 gram, the remaining 49,000 specimens were put at the post-larva stage. The post-larva seeding has been performed according to a successful reproduction of the two centres, so that it goes beyond the plant potentiality to wean a so high number of alevins. For this reason the choice was to release the specimens at this life stage. Before carrying out the repopulation program, the watercourses have been studied in detail, showing important features of the habitat for the Cobice sturgeon, as for example substratum granulometry, stream velocity and bathymetry. Particular attention has been drawn to the presence of holes. In the three regions involved in the project, following rivers have been studied: Po, Adda, Oglio, Mincio, Adige, Bacchiglione, Brenta, Sile, Piave, Livenza, Lemene, Tagliamento. For the evaluation of the repopulation program both campaigns of direct sampling with nets and electrofishing and monitoring campaigns through a national networtk that have involved fishermen for leisure, professional fishermen, volunteers and the staff of the security service of the different Bodies have been carried out. The monitoring network was previously organised, with informative meetings and distribution of materials. Thanks to this organisation, in case a sturgeon was accidentally captured, it was possible to signal it calling the nearest referring centre. As soon as the nearest surveyor received the call, he immediately went to the capture place to verify, with an adequate reader, the presence of microchip and to survey the biometric measures. If no microchip was present, a fin fragment of around 1 cm2 was taken for genetic tagging. The genetic tagging, thanks to the results of the genetic characterization analysis, made it possible to recognise the specimens analysed as descendants of the stocks kept in captivity (F0), deriving then from previous repopulation programs, or as wild. Out of 38 analysed animals, 23 have resulted not assignable to the F0. The organization of the monitoring network had also the aim of awakening the fishermen, but dissemination of the project was spread also among schools, carrying out a specific program of environmental education in which around 500 school groups corresponding to the total involvement of around 10,000 students have been met. The results of the repopulation and of the monitorings carried out both directly and through the survey network have been organized in a Geographical Information system (GIS). The GIS was developed on a geo-database with a geographical reference of the seeding points and the points of capture, to which following information has been added: information of the single specimens sown or captured, as the microchip number, length, weight, genetics of origin, date and place of seeding/capture, etc. These tables were linked with the points with a geographical reference and among them, in order to access all available information through GIS for each of the thousands of specimens having a microchip. This Action Plan for the Cobice sturgeon is the result of the same project but it also considered the Action Plan produced by the Tessin Park for the repopulation at the moment banished to the fresh waters of that river. The action plan was performed on the model of the management Plan and is therefore structured in four sections: knowledge framework; evaluation of the ecologic needs; aims; management strategy. Thanks to this structure one clear general goal was set: the conservation of the A. Naccarii in a satisfying state, as defined by the Habitat Directive. To this follow 14 detailed aims that are functional to the general aim: giving the Sile river the fluvial continuity back; monitoring on some rivers of the dangerous structures for the species; facilitation to the overcoming of barrages; conservation of the habitats where the Cobice sturgeon lives; reduction of the competition with the silurus; reduction of the poaching; awakening of the population to the topic of the conservation; awakening of the authorities; progressive increase of the natural population; ex-situ stock conservation; increase of the genetic diversity of the natural population; increase of the knowledge about the bio-ecology; promotion of a regional, provincial and sector planning and programming system; conservation of the species in the Ticino River. The management stategy analysed moreover the value of the Action Plan, integrating it in the regulations, as the areale of the Cobice sturgeon covers three different regions and it is not restricted to the sites of Rete Natura 2000. Periodical deadlines for the review of the Action Plan have been furthermore set, having the aim of adjusting it to the development of the conservation status of the natural population. Depending on such periodical reviews, some detailed aims have been selected: they cannot be faced in the first deadline, but it will be certainly necessary to consider them in the following reviews. In order to clearly identify how to reach those goals, the management activities were outlined and organized according to the types selected in the “Manual for the management of the Nature Sites 2000” of the Italian Ministry for the Environment: active intervention (IA); regulations (RE); monitoring and/or research programs (MR); didactic programs (PD). Each goal goes back to a structured table with the following items: Goal; Activity description; Implementation timetable; Indicators and parameters; Priorities; Expected results; Costs estimate; Potential programmatic references and financial funds; Person in charge of the implementation.
Managing Polyploidy in Ex Situ Conservation Genetics: The Case of the Critically Endangered Adriatic Sturgeon (Acipenser naccarii).
PLoS One. 2011; 6(3): e18249. Published online 2011 Mar 29. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018249
While the current expansion of conservation genetics enables to address more efficiently the management of threatened species, alternative methods for genetic relatedness data analysis in polyploid species are necessary. Within this framework, we present a standardized and simple protocol specifically designed for polyploid species that can facilitate management of genetic diversity, as exemplified by the ex situ conservation program for the tetraploid Adriatic sturgeon Acipenser naccarii. A critically endangered endemic species of the Adriatic Sea tributaries, its persistence is strictly linked to the ex situ conservation of a single captive broodstock currently decimated to about 25 individuals, which represents the last remaining population of Adriatic sturgeon of certain wild origin. The genetic variability of three F1 broodstocks available as future breeders was estimated based on mitochondrial and microsatellite information and compared with the variability of the parental generation. Genetic data showed that the F1 stocks have only retained part of the genetic variation present in the original stock due to the few parent pairs used as founders. This prompts for the urgent improvement of the current F1 stocks by incorporating new founders that better represent the genetic diversity available. Following parental allocation based on band sharing values, we set up a user-friendly tool for selection of candidate breeders according to relatedness between all possible parent-pairs that secures the use of non-related individuals. The approach developed here could also be applied to other endangered tetraploid sturgeon species overexploited for caviar production, particularly in regions lacking proper infrastructure and/or expertise.
Status of the Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) in Switzerland.
Journal of Mountain Ecology, 13 (2020): 23–30.
Between the late 19th and early 20th century, the Eurasian otter had been persecuted in Switzerland as a nuisance animal. Federal funding was provided in order to eradicate the species. Additionally, habitat alterations and environmental pollutants played an important role in the decline of the species throughout the 20th century. The last signs of otter pres-ence were found in 1989, after which Switzerland was devoid of wild otters until 2009 when an otter was detected by an automatic camera in a fish pass. Since then, several indi-viduals have been observed in different regions of Switzerland. In two areas, otters have already reproduced successfully. The federal office for nature protection has launched a national working group to coordinate ongoing initiatives concerning otters between different stakeholders.