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Reintroduction is the deliberate release of a species into the wild, from captivity or relocated from other areas where the species survives. A species that needs reintroduction is usually one whose existence has become threatened or endangered in the wild. Because reintroduction may involve returning native species to localities where they had been extirpated, some prefer the term "reestablishment".
There is historical documentation that humans have been moving wildlife from their native habitats for many years. Movement of these species may have been done in order to restock hunted populations, solve human–wildlife conflicts, or to encourage industries such as nature-based tourism. The notion of reintroduction as a viable conservation strategy became increasingly popular in the 1970s and 1980s due to the reintroduction of some of the most world's most charismatic endangered species such as the Arabian oryx in Oman, the Golden lion tamarin in Brazil, and the Peregrine Falcons in North America. The reintroduction of a species to fulfill a biodiversity restoration objective is a relatively recent activity due to an increase in global awareness and a realized need to conserve biological diversity to prevent a species permanent extinction.
Principals of reintroduction
Reintroduction and translocation are both important tools for population and species management. Translocation moves wild-caught animals from one natural location to another, while Reintroduction moves captive-born animals into their natural historical range. "Much of the behavioral research required to obtain reproduction will also be critical for reintroduction, which depends on the development of behaviorally competent individuals. More behavioral research to select the best candidates and prepare them for the very different challenges that await them in nature will be essential also. Behaviorists will again play a crucial role in post-release monitoring to determine the behavioral deficiencies that limit the success of reintroductions. There may be no other conservation action where the skills of behavioral researchers are more essential than reintroduction." In situ conservation means "on site". In-situ conservation is the conservation of species diversity within normal and natural habitats and ecosystems. The challenge in using in-situ methods is to expand our vision of protected areas to include multiple use and extractive reserves to develop new models for conservation. In-Situ conservation uses innovative proposals such as damaged ecosystems to preserve rare, endangered, and threatened species and to expand the range of options available for economic development. Ex-situ conservation means literally, "off-site conservation". It is the process of protecting an endangered species of plant or animal outside of its natural habitat. Capturing and relocating part of a population from a threatened habitat and placing it in a new location where it may have a better chance of survival is one example. Ex-situ conservation should only be used when In-Situ conservation cannot.
Zoos are one of the most conventional methods of ex-situ conservation. Depending on their size and location, zoos receive between a few tens of thousands to several million visitors annually. Zoos provide education to the public about the many endangered species and explain the factors contributing the threats they face in their native habitats. Through ex-situ conservation methods they provide protected specimens for breeding and reintroduction into the wild. It has been suggested that this method should be used only when necessary and when In-Situ conservation is not possible.
Successes and failures
Reintroduction biology is new and continues to be a work in progress. The IUCN/SSC Re-introduction Specialist Group & Environment Agency, in their 2011 Global Re-introduction Perspectives, compiled reintroduction case studies from around the world. 184 case studies were reported on a range of species which included invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, and plants. Assessments from all of the studies included goals, success indicators, project summary, major difficulties faced, major lessons learned, and success of project with reasons for success or failure. The Siberian tiger population has rebounded from 40 individuals in the 1940s to around 500 in 2007. The Siberian tiger population is now the largest un-fragmented tiger population in the world. Yet, a high proportion of translocations and reintroductions have not been successful in establishing viable populations Black Footed Ferrets in North America have also been a highly successful reintroduced species. Husbandry techniques were refined and the first successful captive breeding occurred in 1987. For this species, disease management in captivity is paramount and strict protocols are followed. Genetic management is closely monitored and ferrets are bred using a mean-kinship strategy which provides genetic diversity when breed in captivity. To prepare them for reintroduction into their new "wild" habitat, captive-born ferrets are placed in outdoor pens, simulating quasi-natural conditions with dirt burrows and live prey. Ferrets that receive pre-release conditioning in outdoor pens prior to release have demonstrated 10-fold higher survival rates in the wild than ferrets that receive no pre-release exposure. Ferrets are typically released in the fall during their natural dispersal and kits (young of the year) are the primary candidates.
Many factors can attribute to the success or failure of a reintroduction. Predators, food, pathogens, competitors, and weather can all affect a reintroduced population's ability to grow, survive, and reproduce. Animals raised in captivity may experience stress during captivity or translocation, which can weaken their immune systems. The IUCN reintroduction guidelines emphasize the need for an assessment of the availability of suitable habitat as a key component of reintroduction planning. Poor assessment of the release site can increase the chances that the species will reject the site and perhaps move to a less suitable environment. This can decrease the species fitness and thus decrease chances for survival. They state that restoration of the original habitat and amelioration of causes of extinction must be explored and considered as essential conditions for these projects. Unfortunately, the monitoring period that should follow re introductions often remains neglected.
Improving research techniques
A cooperative approach to reintroduction by ecologists and biologists could improve research techniques. For both preparation and monitoring of reintroductions, increasing contacts between academic population biologists and wildlife managers is encouraged within the Survival Species Commission and the IUCN. The IUCN states that a re-introduction requires a multidisciplinary approach involving a team of persons drawn from a variety of backgrounds. A survey by Wolf et al. in 1998 indicated that 64% of reintroduction projects have used subjective opinion to assess habitat quality. This means that most reintroduction evaluation has been based on human anecdotal evidence and not enough has been based on statistical findings. Seddon et al. (2007) suggest that researchers contemplating future reintroductions should specify goals, overall ecological purpose, and inherent technical and biological limitations of a given reintroduction, and planning and evaluation processes should incorporate both experimental and modeling approaches.
Monitoring the health of individuals, as well as the survival, is important; both before and after the reintroduction. Intervention may be necessary if the situation proves unfavorable. Population dynamics models that integrate demographic parameters and behavioral data recorded in the field can lead to simulations and tests of a priori hypotheses. Using previous results to design further decisions and experiments is a central concept of adaptive management. In other words, learning by doing can help in future projects. Population ecologists should therefore collaborate with biologists, ecologists, and wildlife management to improve reintroduction programs.
It may be very hard to reintroduce EW species into the wild, even if their natural habitats were restored. Survival techniques, which are normally passed from parents to offspring during parenting, are lost. The genetics of the species is saved, but the natural memetics of the species is not.
Beginning in the 1980s, biologists have learned that many mammals and birds need to learn a lot to survive in the wild. Thus, reintroduction programmes have to be planned carefully, ensuring that the animals have the necessary survival skills. Biologists must also study the animals after the reintroduction to learn whether the animals are surviving and breeding, what effects the reintroduction has on the ecosystem, and how to improve the process.
Still, a vast number of animals may need to be reintroduced into the wild to be sure that enough of them learn how to survive. For instance, in reintroducing Houbara Bustards into the wild in the United Arab Emirates, more than 5,000 birds per year are used.
Re-introduction Specialist Group (RSG)
The RSG is a network of specialists whose aim is to combat the ongoing and massive loss of biodiversity by using re-introductions as a responsible tool for the management and restoration of biodiversity. It does this by actively developing and promoting sound inter-disciplinary scientific information, policy, and practice to establish viable wild populations in their natural habitats. The role of the RSG is to promote the re-establishment of viable populations in the wild of animals and plants. The need for this role was felt due to the increased demand from re-introduction practitioners, the global conservation community and increase in re-introduction projects worldwide.
Increasing numbers of animal and plant species are becoming rare, or even extinct in the wild. In an attempt to re-establish populations, species can – in some instances – be re-introduced into an area, either through translocation from existing wild populations, or by re-introducing captive-bred animals or artificially propagated plants.
Ongoing or successful programs
- Black grouse to Derbyshire – (ongoing)
- Common crane to Somerset (ongoing)
- Corncrake to Cambridgeshire – (ongoing)* Glanville fritillary butterfly to Somerset – (successful)
- European beaver to Wales, England, and Scotland (ongoing)
- Great bustard to Salisbury Plain – (ongoing)
- Heath fritillary butterfly to Essex – (successful)
- Ladybird spider to Arne RSPB reserve in Dorset, England (ongoing).
- Large blue butterfly in the West and The South West – (successful and ongoing)
- Northern goshawk – the existing UK population is believed to be derived from a mixture of escaped falconers' birds and deliberate introductions – (successful)
- Osprey to Rutland Water – (successful)
- Red kite in the Chiltern Hills, Black Isle, Northamptonshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Yorkshire, Perth and Kinross and Gateshead – (successful)
- Red squirrel to Anglesey – (successful and ongoing)
- Reindeer to the Cairngorms in Scotland - (semi-domesticated; successful)
- Scots pine to southern England – (unplanned, successful)
- Silver-washed fritillary to Essex - (ongoing, locally successful)
- South China tiger - Captive tigers being re-wilded in South Africa under Save China's Tigers program, will be eventually released back into the wilderness of China.
- Wild boar to several places in Britain – (accidental, successful)
- White-tailed eagle to the Hebrides – (successful)
- White-tailed eagle to the east coast of Scotland – (ongoing)
Planned or proposed programs
Planned or proposed programs
- Asiatic Lion Reintroduction Project of Asiatic lion to Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary from their only home presently in the world at Gir Forest National Park. Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary is the chosen site for re-introducing and establishing the world's second completely separate population of the wild free ranging Asiatic lions in the state of Madhya Pradesh. It was decided to re-introduce the Asiatic lion in Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary in Rajasthan. While some will be reintroduced in two locations in Gujarat.
- Cheetah reintroduction in India is a project to reintroduce cheetah in India. The Asiatic cheetah went extinct in 1947 when Maharaja of Surguja hunted the last three in the state of Rewa in central India. It was officially declared extinct in 1952 by the Indian government. Plans are going on to reintroduce the cheetah to two site in Madhya Pradesh (Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary and Nauradehi Wildlife Sanctuary) and in Rajasthan's Shahgarh Landscape. However, the Supreme court of India put a hold on this project as they recommended to protect the endangered lions first rather than import cheetah from Africa or Iran. (On hold)
Ongoing or successful programs
- Alpine ibex in the French, Italian and Swiss Alps (successful)
- Arabian oryx in the Sultanate of Oman (successful) United Arab Emirates (successful)
- Black-footed ferret in the Canada, USA and Mexico
- Bornean orangutan in East Kalimantan, Indonesia
- California condor in California (USA) and Mexico (ongoing)
- Eurasian brown bear in the Alps (ongoing)
- European beaver in several places in Europe (successful)
- European otter in the Netherlands (ongoing)
- European lynx in Switzerland (successful), and other parts of Europe (ongoing)
- European black vulture in the Massif Central in France
- Giant anteater in Corrientes, Argentina
- Goitered gazelle in Protected Areas of Vashlovani in Georgia (country)(ongoing)
- Golden eagle in Ireland (ongoing)
- Griffon vulture in the Massif Central, France (successful), Central Apennines, Italy, and Northern and Southern Israel (ongoing)
- Guanaco in central Argentina
- Lammergeier in the Alps (successful) Switzerland (successful)
- Lesser kestrel in Spain
- Lesser white-fronted goose in Sweden and Germany (ongoing)
- Musk ox in Alaska (USA) (successful)
- Northern bald ibis in Austria and Italy (ongoing)
- Nubian ibex in Israel (successful)
- Père David's deer in China (ongoing)
- Peregrine falcon in Germany, Poland, Sweden and Norway
- Persian fallow deer in Israel (ongoing)
- Przewalski's horse in Mongolia (ongoing)
- Puerto Rican parrot in Arecibo (ongoing)
- Red kite in Ireland
- White-tailed eagle in Ireland (ongoing)
- Wisent in Poland, Belarus (successful) and other parts of Europe (ongoing)
- Wolf in Wyoming (USA) (successful)
- Woylie in Australia (ongoing)
- Campbell-Palmer, R.; Rosell, F. (2010). "Conservation of the Eurasian beaver Castor fiber: an olfactory perspective". Mammal Review 40 (4): 293–312. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2907.2010.00165.x.
- Seddon; Armstrong, DP; Maloney, RF (2007). "Developing the Science of Reintroduction Biology". Conservation Biology 21 (2): 303–312. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2006.00627.x. PMID 17391180.
- Kleiman, D. G. (1989). "Reintroduction of captive mammals for conservation. Guidelines for reintroducing endangered species into the wild". BioScience 39 (3): 152–161. doi:10.2307/1311025.
- Swaisgood, Ronald R (November 2004) Retrieved May 8, 2012 from http://www.animalbehavior.org/ABSConservation/ConservationBehaviorist/
- BGCI: The global network. Retrieved April 30, 2012 from http://www.bgci.org/ourwork/Ecosystems/
- The Role of Zoos and Aquaria of the World in Conservation. Retrieved April 30, 2012 from http://www.americanzoos.info/Home/World%20Zoo%20Conservation%20Strategy.pdf
- Soorae, P. S. (ed.) (2011). Global Re-introduction Perspectives: 2011.More case studies from around the globe. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN/SSC Re-introduction Specialist Group and Abu Dhabi, UAE: Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi. xiv + 250 pp.SBN: 978-2-8317-1432-5 www.iucnsscrsg.org
- Rietbergen, Jennifer Building a Sustainable Future WWF International 2008
- Stamps, J.A.; Swaisgood, R.R (2007). "Someplace like home: Experience, Habitat selection and Conservation Biology". Applied Animal Behaviour Science 102 (3–4): 392–409. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2006.05.038.
- Prepared by the SSC Re-introduction Specialist Group (May 1995) IUCN/SSC Guidelines for Re-Introductions http://www.iucnsscrsg.org
- Sarrazin, F. Barbault, R. (November 1996). Reintroduction: Challenges and Lessons for Basic Ecology Elsevier Science Volume 11 No. 11
- uaeinteract.com - Houbara bustard reintroduced into the wild
- Red squirrel conservation, squirrel ecology and grey squirrel management
- See Borneo Orangutan Survival
- News - Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government
- Gorbunov, Y.N., Dzybov, D.S., Kuzmin, Z.E. and Smirnov, I.A. 2008. Methodological recommendations for botanic gardens on the reintroduction of rare and threatened plants Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI)
- Shmaraeva, A. and Ruzaeva, I. 2009. Reintroduction of threatened plant species in Russia BG Journal, Vol. 6, No. 1
- IUCN/SSC Re-introduction Specialist Group
- IUCN/SSC Re-introduction Specialist Group's NEWSLETTER: "Re-introduction NEWS" (IUCN/SSC)
- Reintroduction of Golden Eagle to Ireland
- BBC News release on Beaver reintroduction in England
- Scottish Beavers Network - campaigning for Beaver reintroduction in Scotland
- Reintroduction of Przewalski's Horse to Mongolia
- Reintroduction of Great Bustard to England
- Reintroduction of Endangered Native Orchids into the Wild in El Valle de Anton, Panama
- Reintroduction of endangered plant species in China: Dipteronia dyeriana, Magnolia odoratissima and M. aromatica, Euryodendron excelsum Chang, Bretschneidera sinensis Hemsl