Wildlife releases have a mixed record, and climate change complicates things

Wildlife releases have a mixed record, and climate change complicates things

Today around 350 Mauritius fodies fly around the lowlands of Île Aux Aigrettes, a small island off the coast of Mauritius. Their flourishing flocks belie the predation and habitat destruction that nearly drove these colorful songbirds to extinction in their original habitat. Twenty years ago, conservationists began breeding the birds in captivity and releasing them on the little limestone islet they now call home. The fodies (Foudia rubra) have since thrived to the point that they’re no longer considered critically endangered. “We thought we were going to have to do a lot of intensive work for decades, but they bounced back so nicely on the island,” says Vikash Tatayah, conservation director of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, a conservation NGO that ran the project. Returning lost species to their former stomping grounds or moving them to new, safer locales is a critical conservation technique called conservation translocation. But research shows it only works about half the time. With 1 million species headed toward extinction over the next few decades, scientists are urgently trying to work out how to improve the strategy’s odds of success. “Moving species around has been an extremely important tool in the past. If we can improve the likelihood of succeeding in future, then it will become a much more reliable tool in the fight against large-scale biodiversity loss,” says Shane Morris, a conservation ecologist at the University of Tasmania, Australia. The Mauritius fodies (Foudia rubra), which were driven to extinction in their original habitat, now thrive in…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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