Mammal translocations are commonly used to aid conservation. All such translocations should follow relevant guidelines, include post-release monitoring, and be undertaken as part of a national strategy and not ad hoc.
Globally, conservation translocations are increasingly implemented as a means of conservation management (Seddon et al. 2014) and are a method of proactive species recovery. A review of the IUCN/SSC Global Reintroduction Perspective Series illustrated that mammal translocations are the most commonly reported, with 106 mammal case studies across the six reviewed Perspectives books compared to other taxa (28 invertebrate case studies, 35 fish, 25 amphibians, 37 reptiles and 66 birds) (Berger-Tal et al. 2020).
The most recent State of Nature report confirmed that wildlife in the UK has shown continued levels of decline since the 1970s (Hayhow et al. 2019). One in four mammal species in Britain are now threatened with extinction and 45% are considered at risk (Mathews & Harrower, 2020). As a result, conservation translocations of species within the UK are likely to increase in response to the growing focus on species recovery.
Whilst the IUCN/SSC Global Reintroduction Perspective Series reports success levels to be increasing, the undertaking of any conservation translocation project is a high-risk strategy, particularly with threatened or endangered species. An evaluation of existing global reviews of success rates of conservation translocation projects report levels ranging from 26%-64% (Morris et al. 2021). Projects require extensive planning and management, and as such, the Mammal Society recommends that any projects under consideration in the UK follow the available international and national guidelines.
Position on Conservation Translocations
All conservation translocations should adhere to the IUCN Species Survival Commission Guidelines for Reintroductions and Other Conservation Translocations (IUCN/SSC 2013), compiled by the Conservation Translocation Specialist Group in 2013. In addition to these international guidelines, projects should follow The Scottish Code for Conservation Translocations, or the Reintroductions and conservation translocations in England: code, guidance and forms.
The Mammal Society recommends that all projects incorporate community consultation, short-term and long-term management and monitoring programmes to determine project outcomes for the target species. In addition, a broad-scope monitoring programme is recommended to determine positive and negative impacts of the conservation translocation on non-target species and the biodiversity of the release site and surrounding area.
Conservation translocation planning should be undertaken as part of a national strategy. Where no national strategy currently exists for the target species, potential outcomes of the project should be considered beyond the localised area, including considerations such as future connectivity of populations.
Conservation translocations practices and outcomes should be disseminated through methods such as Conservation Evidence or as case studies in the IUCN/SSC Conservation Translocation Specialist Group Global Reintroduction Perspectives.
Berger-Tal O., Blumstein D.T. and Swaisgood R.R. 2020. Conservation translocations: a review of common difficulties and promising directions. Animal Conservation 23:121-131, https://doi.org/10.1111/acv.12534.
Defra (2021). Reintroductions and other conservation translocations: code and guidance for England. Version 1.1, pp77.
Hayhow D.B., Eaton M.A., Stanbury A.J., Burns F., Kirby W.B., Bailey N., Beckmann B., Bedford J., Boersch-Supan P.H., Coomber F., Dennis E.B., Dolman S.J., Dunn E., Hall J., Harrower C., Hatfield J.H., Hawley J., Haysom K., Hughes J., Johns D.G., Mathews F., McQuatters-Gollop A., Noble D.G., Outhwaite C.L., Pearce-Higgins J.W., Pescott O.L., Powney G.D. and Symes N. (2019) The State of Nature 2019. The State of Nature partnership.
IUCN/SSC (2013). Guidelines for Reintroductions and Other Conservation Translocations. Version 1.0. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN Species Survival Commission, viiii + 57 pp.
Mathews F, and Harrower C. (2020). IUCN – compliant Red List for Britain’s Terrestrial Mammals. Assessment by the Mammal Society under contract to Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and Scottish Natural Heritage. Natural England, Peterborough ISBN 978-1-78354-485-1.
Morris S.D., Brook B.W., Moseby K.E and Johnson C.N. (2021). Factors affecting success of conservation translocations of terrestrial vertebrates: A global systematic review. Global Ecology and Conservation 28: e01630. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2021.e01630.
National Species Reintroduction Forum (2014). The Scottish Code for Conservation Translocations: Best Practice Guidelines for Conservation Translocations in Scotland Version 1.1. Scottish Natural Heritage.
Seddon P.J., Griffiths C.J., Soorae P.S. and Armstrong D.P. (2014). Reversing defaunation: restoring species in a changing world. Science 345: 406-412.
Mammal Society – 22.08.2022