Drug lord Pablo Escobar imported 4 Hippopotamuses (Hippopotamus amphibius) onto his private estate in Colombia in the 1980s. Since his arrest and assassination, the hippos have escaped the confines of the property and have begun to reproduce in the wild of Colombia. They now number approximately 60 individuals. The presence of such a large, and possibly dangerous, species in a new habitat raises several moral and ecological questions and dilemmas. It is unknown what effect these animals may have on their new environment, or the threat that they pose to the people living near them. In an effort to mitigate possible risks to the environment and local populations the Colombian government initiated an effort to castrate all males in the herd. However, it is unlikely that these efforts will be very effective in curbing the population growth of the animals. South America lost most of its large species of animals during the Quaternary Extinction and it is possible that the hippos are filling a gap that still exists in the ecology of the continent. The rewilding efforts occurring around the world aim to restore and protect natural processes and habitats by introducing (or reintroducing) apex predators or keystone species. Perhaps further research could shed light on possible positive influences that the Hippos have on the South American environment and responsible ways to avoid risks to local populations.
Leon Blaustein, Ori Segev, Valentina Rovelli, Shirli Bar-David, Lior Blank, Antonina Polevikov, Nadav Pezaro, Tamar Krugman, Simona Showstack, Avi Koplovich, Lital Ozeri and Alan R. Templeton
The Near Eastern fire salamander, Salamandra infraimmaculata, is considered an endangered species in Israel and is near-threatened regionally. For 25 years, our laboratory has sought ethical sampling methods to protect individuals and populations of Salamandra. To “mark” individuals for estimating dispersal and population size, we use non-invasive individual-specific markings from photographs of larvae and adults. We demonstrated through mesocosm experiments (which are less mortality-driven than in nature) that exotic Gambusia affinis have extreme negative mortality effects on Salamandra larvae. From a compassionate conservation aspect, G. affinis should not be killed and placed in habitats where amphibians are not in danger and mosquitoes can be controlled. We identified breeding-site characteristics demonstrating that permanent breeding sites support larger adult populations than temporary breeding sites. For population genetics studies, we take minimal sized tail tips from adults (which have no adverse effects) for microsatellite data. For gene expression studies, rather than sacrifice entire bodies, we demonstrated that by taking only small larval tail tips, we could follow gene expression. We additionally demonstrated that tail tip removal does not affect survival, time to or size at metamorphosis. We documented high road kill rates at a specific breeding site. To prevent potential disease spread, we sterilize boots and sampling gear. We use results for implementing or recommending conservation of individuals and populations – e.g., identifying: movement corridors for breeding site dispersal; roadkill hotspots for under-road tunnels; suitable habitat for pool construction for more effective conservation; utilizing population genetics for recommending management units; information on demography and genetic diversity to identify hotspots for conservation; removal of Gambusia for amphibian protection.
Dror Ben-Ami and Ray Mjadwesch
Compassionate conservation is an emerging field in conservation that seeks to integrate animal protection and conservation to achieve either improved conservation outcomes, particularly where conservation priorities and human-wildlife conflict, or the same outcomes, but with less pain and suffering for wildlife. In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Eastern Grey Kangaroos (EGKs) are culled to reduce grazing pressure on threatened native grasslands and woodlands. We integrate decision-making criteria about animal protection into planning of wildlife-management to formulate a compassionate conservation management case study. The management criteria include a series of guiding questions: Is management necessary? Will intervention (management of EGKs) achieve the desired conservation outcomes? And, if intervention is necessary, is killing necessary? We found that kangaroos can be managed without culling. The conflict between conservation goals and kangaroo abundance is likely to be accentuated during extended drought. In the short-term, methods for improving rates of habitat recovery can include fencing of threatened grassland communities and reduction of kangaroo density via translocation. Human activity must also be monitored as multiple human-caused biotic and abiotic disturbances are known to have a strong impact on biodiversity of the native grassland habitats. In the medium to long-term, Eastern Grey Kangaroos have the potential for maintaining stable populations, and their herbivory is necessary for grassland function and nutrient cycling. Finally, we suggest that compassionate conservation and adaptive management can work well together as social values shift towards greater emphasis on animal protection.
Shira Yashphe and S. Lisa Kubotera
Coyotes (Canis latrans) are native to North America and are frequently seen in and around urbanized areas. As human population grows and urban sprawl encroaches on coyote habitat, human-coyote conflicts increase. Faced with the need to find solutions, policy-makers, and conservationists are challenged with the task of designing coyote management programs that would ensure public safety while conserving the species. The need to consider the welfare of individual animals, as encompassed by the emerging field of Compassionate Conservation, adds an additional challenge. By examining two coyote management programs’ case studies in North America—one in Long Beach, California and another in Oakville, Ontario—the benefits of adopting compassionate solutions are illustrated. As exemplified by Oakville’s strategy, compassionate programs promote the moral treatment of animals while proving to be economically and socially superior to strategies employing lethal measures. Such strategies adopt proactive, rather than reactive responses to human-coyote encounters and invest heavily in public engagement and education. Through the development, implementation, and regulation of non-lethal wildlife management policies, more cities and towns will be able to meet the needs of the stakeholders involved in coyote-human conflict while sparing the life of the animal.
Arian D. Wallach, Erick Lundgren, Esty Yanco and Daniel Ramp
Human-assisted biotic migration is a hallmark of the Anthropocene. Populations introduced outside their native ranges (‘migrant species’) have commonly been viewed as a threat to be addressed with lethal control programs. Israel has a long history of anthropogenic changes, and conservation has typically focused on ameliorating direct human impacts rather than eradicating migrant species. However, this may be changing with the growing influence of invasion biology worldwide. We conducted a review of the diversity, conservation status, and academic attitudes toward Israel’s migrant species (IMS). We identified 199 plants and animals from 85 families that have immigrated into Israel from across the globe, and 122 species from 64 families considered native to Israel that have emigrated to every bioregion and to two oceans, although few species have become cosmopolitan. The conservation status of most immigrant (84.9%) and emigrant (55.7%) species has not been assessed, and even the native ranges of eleven immigrants (5.5%) remains unknown. Of those assessed, 27% of immigrants are threatened or decreasing in their native ranges, and 62% of emigrants are globally decreasing or locally threatened and extinct. After accounting for local extinctions, immigration has increased Israel’s plant and vertebrate richness by 104 species. Israel’s immigrants are increasingly being viewed from an invasion biology perspective, with 76% of studies published in the past decade, reaching over a quarter of local conservation publications. Incorporating principles of compassionate conservation could help foster a more socially acceptable and morally grounded approach to the immigrant wildlife of the Middle East.
Compassionate Conservation seeks to merge the protection of animals and nature for improved conservation outcomes. Although Compassionate Conservation has broad disciplinary scope, its emergence at the interface of animal welfare science and conservation biology remains formative. Translocation biology offers an important opportunity to showcase the compassionate conservation approach because translocations encompass direct care and management of individual animals along with concerns for population and species health. Historically, a one-size-fits-all approach to translocations has proven to be misguided. Current advances in the field offer an important opportunity to apply the methodological focus that animal welfare science has on individuals and social groups for improved conservation outcomes. In particular, the evolutionary and behavioural science insights into the personality of individual animals highlights that the welfare of individual animals and the variation among them are integral to population and species recovery. In a review of translocation biology, animal personality and with the inclusion of a translocation case study, I show that translocation biology offers a clear case for the application of Compassionate Conservation principles.
Arnon Lotem, Stephen I. Rothstein and Yoram Yom-Tov
Yehudah L. Werner
Opinions differ whether tail loss in lizards is mainly caused by predators or by intra-specific fighting. Recently this dilemma was investigated through a comparison of lizard tail loss rates between mainland populations in Greece and those on nearby islands harboring fewer predators. The higher tail loss rate on the islands was interpreted as due to the predation-free denser lizard populations having more intra-specific fighting (Itescu et al. 2017, Journal of Animal Ecology 86: 66–74). However, that analysis failed to exclude an alternative hypothesis which I propose and support with well documented circumstantial evidence: The lizards analyzed were Hemidactylus turcicus and Mediodactylus kotschyi (Gekkonidae), both relatively long-lived. On the predator-poor islands they could live longer due to the few predators and thus accumulate the low rate of tail loss. Moreover, both on the mainland and on the islands the tail loss rates are higher in M. kotschyi than in H. turcicus, although life spans are of similar order of magnitude, possibly longer in H. turcicus. But the latter is active at night whereas M. kotschyi is active also in daytime, exposed to more predators during more time. Thus also this inter-specific difference accords with the alternative hypothesis. The two processes are not mutually exclusive and both should be taken into account as potentially responsible for the rate of tail loss in lizards.
Izabella Olejniczak and Stanisław Lenart
In 2009 and 2010, we examined the effects of different tillage systems on springtail communities. The study was established on the experimental field, in which tillage and no-tillage cultivation had been conducted since 1975, of the Research Station of the Warsaw University of Life Sciences’ Department of Agronomy, located at Chylice, near Warsaw (52005’N, 20033’E).
The treatments considered were conventional tillage with a mouldboard plough (CT) and no-tillage (NT), and each method was divided between with and without liming. In 2009, the fields were sown with winter wheat, and spring barley was planted the following year. During both growing seasons, collembolan densities were higher under NT than CT, but the reverse was true after harvest. However, the time of the season had a significant effect on collembolan densities not only over the whole study period but also in particular years. Additionally, in fields that were limed, collembolan densities varied, with no clear trend. The dominant collembolan species in the CT and NT fields was Isotoma viridis Bourlet, 1839, while Paristoma notabilis (Schäffer, 1896) was prevalent when liming was used. The relative proportion of each of the two species in springtail communities was at least 20 percent. The species diversity of collembolan communities was similar in both study years, and it was higher in CT than in NT fields.
The study was financially supported as part of the MNiSW project No. N N305171136.