Wildlife movement on five continents

The movement of wildlife from one place to another has become an ecological restoration tool used around the world. In some cases, it is used to save endangered species and in others to restore natural processes in ecosystems, according to Ignacio Jiménez, an expert on translocation and conservation at the IUCN.

This year, several world experts in the reintroduction and translocation of animal species gathered at the Oceanográfico de Valencia, a meeting coordinated by Ignacio Jiménez, a technician at the Global Nature Foundation and a member of the Translocation Group for Conservation of the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Nature (IUCN).

Translocation is a broader term than reintroduction”, clarifies the expert, “because it does not only include bringing back what was and is no longer there (re-introducing), but also reinforcing an existing population, such as the lynx in Serra Morena, for example. example; or what is newer, recovering ecological processes, as happened in Mauritius, where their tortoises became extinct and Seychelles tortoises were translocated, which are not native but occupy their ecological role as a large herbivore.”.

Jiménez explains that, in the context of ecological restoration, translocation is the tool used to bring back pieces that were part of the original ecosystem and recalls some of the experiences from the five continents that were presented and discussed during the meeting in Valencia.

ASIA – Reintroduction of the tiger and cheetah to India

In the 1970s, Indira Gandhi promoted the creation of Tiger Reserves with the logic that if this species – a national emblem – is preserved, biodiversity is also protected. Since then, specimens of this feline have been reintroduced in four parks in India, with better or worse results depending on factors such as the management of the protected space itself or the level of support from the local and foreign population.

The Indian Wildlife Institute has advised several states to undertake such reintroductions of the tiger and has now embarked on a similar project with the cheetah, which disappeared from India in the 1950s. is to bring specimens from Africa (from Namibia or South Africa), as it is not feasible to remove them from the small population of Asiatic cheetahs that remains in Iran.

animal translocations, biodiversity, endangered animals, yaguareté, sanctuaries, tiger, refuges
Indian technicians anesthetize a tiger for transport. / Indian Wildlife Institute

AMERICA – The jaguar regains its dominance in Argentina

The Iberá National Park, located in the province of Corrientes, in northern Argentina, is a swampy area that is very well preserved because there is almost no population, although in the past pressure from hunters has exterminated a large part of its fauna. To restore it, species such as the anteater and the pampas deer were brought in, although the return of the main predator, the jaguar, was fundamental for its ecological role.

In addition, this feline is part of the cultural identity of the inhabitants of the region, with strong Guarani roots.

There are currently 12 free jaguars in the park, with great support from the society of Corrientes. Thanks to the advice of the Rewilding Argentina Foundation, they were released after a very complicated technical process of wild specimens (recovered from rescue centers) or jaguar cubs from zoos, but born and raised in the natural environment of the release area at Iberá.

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animal translocations, biodiversity, endangered animals, yaguareté, sanctuaries, tiger, refuges
The translocation of jaguars to the Iberá National Park was not to save the species (distributed from Mexico to Argentina), but for its role as a major predator in the ecosystem. / Karina Sporring Tobuna & Nahuel

AFRICA – International rhino movement

Poaching and habitat loss have drastically reduced the populations of Africa’s two rhino species, the white and black, although in recent decades they have managed to thrive again in some protected sanctuaries. In some private reserves and national parks in South Africa, their managers have managed to recover the two species to the point where they have a surplus to be able to ‘export’ some specimens to neighboring states such as Botswana and further afield.

It is not easy to reach agreements between countries for this type of translocation, but 30 rhinos were transferred from South Africa to Rwanda and adapted well. Thanks to this intergovernmental initiative, there is once again a white rhino in a country that has suffered a devastating war. Specifically, in Akagera National Park, which was abandoned and is now much more functional in ecological and economic terms.

animal translocations, biodiversity, endangered animals, yaguareté, sanctuaries, tiger, refuges
Anesthetized rhino in South Africa. /Markus Hofmeyr

OCEANIA – Return of marsupial mammals to Australia

Australia has suffered more loss of native mammals than any other continent. Being mostly marsupials, they had no defenses when western settlers arrived with their domestic animals. The biggest problem is that wild cats and foxes brought in from Europe eat native fauna.

To protect it, the Australian Wildlife Conservancy created areas free of exotic predators, delimiting the territory with huge and expensive fences. Once this objective was achieved in various parts of the country, its technicians managed to bring back 19 species of marsupials, some of which are endangered, such as quolls, numbats, bandicoots, betongs and wallabies.

animal translocations, biodiversity, endangered animals, yaguareté, sanctuaries, tiger, refuges
Wallaby or small kangaroo reintroduced to parts of Australia. / Wallabies Australian Wildlife Conservancy

EUROPE – Reintroduction of vertebrates in Spain

The reintroductions of the Iberian lynx –the most threatened feline on the planet– in various territories of Spanish geography (Andalusia, Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha) are known and have served as a reference in other countries. However, there are more examples of translocations in Spain, usually carried out by central and regional administrations, scientific institutions and conservation groups.

In the case of birds, the case of the bearded vulture in the Sierra de Cazorla (Jaén), the Picos de Europa and the Tinença de Benifassà Natural Park in Castellón (Community of Valencia), where, for example, specimens from Andalusia and Austria . In turn, the calamon (porphyry porphyry), became extinct and can now be seen in the Albufera de Valencia and the Ebro delta; and the black vulture returned to flight in the Pyrenees, mountains where the brown bear also returned after its reintroduction to the French slope.

Among the amphibians released to their former domains is the Balearic toad or Mallorcan ferret, and among the fish, the samaruc (Hispanic Valencia), endemic to the Valencian Community.

animal translocations, biodiversity, endangered animals, yaguareté, sanctuaries, tiger, refuges
Bearded vulture calf ready to be released in the north of Castellón. / Bruno Duran

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