Two million euros to save Crau’s grasshopper: “Everyone thinks that much money for a cricket is weird, but…”

Although the World Conservation Congress has been held in Marseille since Friday, the Crau nature reserve has received two million euros to save an endangered locust species.

Less than an hour’s drive from the World Conservation Congress, held in Marseille since Friday, the Crau nature reserve has just obtained two million euros to try to save the grasshopper Crau, an endemic species classified in critical danger.

In a field of large beige pebbles, in the middle of some yellowish grass blades, the two small aviaries placed on this plain of Crau are a life raft for the last locusts that live here. This place is the cricket nursery. The nests were placed on the ground in an attempt to preserve the species and consider its later restoration. This thumb-sized insect only exists in this territory. And you can’t grow it anywhere else, explains Claire Pernolet, responsible for the scientific mission at the Paca Natural Space Conservatory.

“There’s a problem with developing embryos, so you can’t hatch in a zoo.”

Claire Pernolet

to France

This grasshopper has been in decline for twenty years, weakened by the advance of agricultural and logistical centers and a tacit alliance between predatory birds and the herds of sheep that exist there. “We suspect predation by herons and corvids, she continues. These birds are closely associated with sheep farms: the flock of sheep moves and this causes locusts and locusts to jump, increasing their ability to catch herons that are side by side with the sheep. ”

In an attempt to save this grasshopper, nearly two million euros were released by Europe and local actors. They will serve to better understand the causes of the decline and the burden on the environment of this insect, which remains invaluable for biodiversity, says Lisbeth Zekner, project coordinator. “Obviously, everyone thinks that much money for a cricket, it’s weird, no one understands our enthusiasm, she admits. And I understand very well. Even with breeders, it’s not always easy because they have other problems, other problems at work. But this cricket is still the symbol that shows if this environment is going well or not… “ This operation is carried out with the associated and remunerated reserve creators.

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