Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by wildzoo, 11 Nov 2015.
Is breeding endangered species in captivity the right way to go?
That article has nearly nothing to do with the actual study done. The actual study was on the feasibility of reintroduction of a single species of bustard.
In this article I can't see the harm the breeding project is doing ???
And in the case of Bustards, several breeding projects have proven they can be very succesfull, for example the reintroduction project of the European great bustard in the UK and also the large scale breeding of Houbara's in the Arabic world.
So I can't see the problem why this won't work with the Indian great bustard ! At least it could be given a try and lets hope it will be succesfull.
Not entirely true regarding bustards into the UK. Eggs are harvested in Russia (allowing for double-clutching) from wild birds and incubated and raised in captive conditions in Wiltshire (UK). Birds are released when young adults and via protection of the surrounding habitat it is hoped that the birds will procreate naturally. Not sure how successful that has been.
I'd agree that bustards aren't an ideal group for captive breeding, but they could be artificially incubated and raised to increase numbers. If the habitat is protected. If people can stop shooting them. The article is pretty poor journalism, though.
Minor point, but the eggs for the UK reintroduction of Great Bustards actually come from Spain. Russian eggs were used until 2013 but Spanish ones seem to have done much better.
Also, the eggs are incubated in Madrid Zoo and then Birdworld in Surrey. They are only taken to the release area in Wiltshire (where they are raised) as newly hatched chicks.
They think the Spanish birds will do better as they are non-migratory unlike the Russian-sourced stock and so less likely to disperse so far from the release site. Also hatching the eggs in the UK as against bringing in chicks is a better option too. The 2014 release seemed to prove this correct, as 50% of birds have stayed/returned to their release areas on Salisbury Plain. Prior to that dispersal and non-return was much higher and there were only nine adult birds(of varying ages) established in total from all the previous years' releases put together.
One problem still is getting the birds to breed more successfully. Several attempted nestings have failed, mostly from predation by foxes. This year a chick has survived, though it was from a nest in the fox proof release pen.
About the Indian Bustard, several decades of conservation failed to protect sufficient open grassland from grazing, disturbance and conversion to farms. So this bird is in a paradox: existing conservation objectively doesn't work, but other methods are not tried either.
For Great Bustard in Germany, breeding started to go, and population risen from 90 to 200, partially because of intensive culling of foxes, other small carnivores and corvids. Fact is that density of foxes in Western Europe is much higher than natural and they have no natural predators left.
Captive breeding of Houbaras for release ( to be hunted ), a case-study :
Mitigation or Compensation: Captive-breeding Houbara British Ornithologists' Union
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