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Providing evidence to improve practice

Action: Translocate to re-establish or boost populations in native range Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Key messages

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  • Abundance (22 studies): Two studies (incuding one controlled and one before-and-after, site comparison study) in Spain and Canada found that translocating animals increased European rabbit abundance or American badger population growth rate at release sites. Fourteen studies (one replicated) in South Africa, the USA, the Netherlands, Italy, France and Spain found that following translocation, populations of warthogs, Eurasian beavers, red squirrels, roe deer, Alpine ibex, Iberian ibex, Cape mountain zebra, 22 species of grazing mammals, black bears, brown bear, bobcats and most populations of river otters increased. Two reviews in South Africa and Australia found that reintroductions (mainly through translocations) led to increasing populations for four of six species of large carnivores and that over half of translocations were classified as successful. One replicated study in the USA and Mexico found that translocating desert bighorn sheep did not increase the population size. Two studies (one replicated) and a review in USA and Canada, the USA and Australia found that translocated American martens, and sea otters at four of seven sites, established populations and that translocated and released captive-bred macropod species established populations in 44 of 72 cases. A study in Italy found that following the translocation of red deer, the density of Apennine chamois in the area almost halved. A worldwide review found that translocating ungulates was more successful when larger numbers were released, and small populations grew faster if they contained more mature individuals and had an equal ratio of males and females.
  • Reproductive success (16 studies): A controlled study in Italy found that wild-caught translocated Apennine chamois reproduced in similar numbers to released captive-bred chamois. Fourteen studies (four replicated) in Canada, the USA, Zimbabwe, South Africa, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands and Slovakia found that translocated black and white rhinoceroses, warthogs, common dormice, European ground squirrels, cougars, bobcats, brown bears, sea otters, river otters and some Eurasian otters reproduced. A study in the Netherlands found that translocated beavers were slow to breed.
  • Survival (39 studies): Four of five studies (including three controlled, two replicated and one before-and-after, site comparison study) in the USA, Canada and Chile found that wild-born translocated long-haired field mice, female elk, cougars and American badgers had lower survival rates than non-translocated resident animals. One found that translocated Lower Keys marsh rabbits had similar survival rates to non-translocated resident animals. Five of four studies (two replicated, four controlled) and two reviews in Canada, Canada and the USA, the USA, Italy, Sweden and Africa, Europe, and North America found that wild-born translocated swift foxes, European otters, black-footed ferret kits and a mix of carnivores had higher survival rates than released captive-bred animals. One study found that wild-born translocated Apennine chamois had a similar survival rate to released captive-bred animals. Twenty of twenty-one studies (including two replicated and one before-and-after study) and a review in Nepal, France, Italy, Portugal, Ukraine, Slovakia and Poland, Canada, USA, Brazil, Uganda, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana found that following translocation, populations of or individual mammals survived between two months and at least 25 years. The other two studies found that two of 10 translocated white rhinoceroses died within three days of release and an American marten population did not persist. A review in Australia found that over half of translocations, for which the outcome could be determined, were classified as successful. Two of three studies (one replicated) and one review in Sweden, the UK, the Netherlands and the USA and Mexico found that following release of wild-caught translocated and captive-bred animals, European otters and common dormice survived three months to seven years. The review found that most black-footed ferret releases were unsuccessful at maintaining a population. A replicated study in the USA found that following translocation of bighorn sheep, 48–98% of their offspring survived into their first winter.
  • Condition (3 studies): Three studies (including one replicated, controlled study) in the USA and Italy found that following translocation, populations of elk had similar levels of genetic diversity to non-translocated populations, descendants of translocated swift fox had genetic diversity at least as high as that of the translocated animals and brown bear genetic diversity declined over time.


  • Use (7 studies): A study in Italy found that following translocation, Alpine ibex used similar habitats to resident animals. Two of four studies (including one randomized, controlled study) in the USA, Netherlands and Botswana found that following translocation (and in one case release of some captive-bred animals), most Eurasian otters settled and all three female grizzly bears established ranges at their release site. The other two studies found that most nine-banded armadillos and some white rhinoceroses (when released into areas already occupied by released animals) dispersed from their release site. Two studies (one replicated) in Spain found that following translocation, Iberian ibex expanded their range and roe deer increased their distribution six-fold.
  • Behaviour change (2 studies): A replicated controlled study in Chile found that following translocation, long-haired field mice travelled two- to four-times further than non-translocated mice. A controlled study in Italy found that wild-caught translocated Apennine chamois moved further from the release site than released captive-bred animals.

Supporting evidence from individual studies


A study published in 1961 on savannah in a national park in Uganda (Savidge 1961) found that after release of 10 translocated white rhinoceros Ceratoiherium simum cottoni, two died within three days. One animal died one day after release and the other died three days after release. Both were adult females. One had a female calf that was taken into captivity. The remainder were all thought to have survived in the short-term, although only four of the seven were resighted by the end of the study. Ten rhinoceroses (four adult females, three half-grown males, one male calf and two female calves) were translocated to the park and released in March 1961. Duration of monitoring not stated.


A study in 1969–1978 in coastal waters close to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada (Morris et al. 1981) found that a population of translocated sea otters Enhydra lutris persisted over nine years and reproduced. Eight and nine years after the translocation of 89 sea otters, a population of at least 67 individuals persisted within the surroundings of the translocation area. Pups (7 individuals), dependent juveniles (4 individuals) and subadult otters (10 individuals) were observed. A total of 89 sea otters were translocated in 1969, 1970 and 1972 from Alaska, USA to the Bunsby Islands along the west coast of Vancouver Island. No details about the translocation procedure are provided. Otters were counted almost daily by boat, scuba diving and aerial census in June-July 1978. Further census details are not provided.


A replicated study in 1965–1981 at seven coastal sites in Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, USA, and British Columbia, Canada (Jameson et al. 1982) found that translocated sea otters Enhydra lutris established stable populations at four of the seven release sites. In south-eastern Alaska, where 412 sea otters were released, 479 were counted six years after the last release. In British Columbia, after 89 sea otters were released, 70 (including some pups) were seen five years after the last release. In Washington, 59 sea otters were released at two sites, with 36 (including one pup) counted across these sites 12 years later. In Oregon, 93 were released at two sites, but only one was found 10 years later. Fifty-five were released on the Pribilof Islands, Alaska, but only three were found nine years later. In 1965–1972, a total of 708 sea otters were translocated from Amchitka Island and Prince William Sound, Alaska to seven coastal sites where they had previously been extirpated. Populations were surveyed in 1971–1975 by boat and plane and from land.


A study in 1975–1981 of savannah in a national park and surrounding areas in Zimbabwe (Booth et al. 1984) found that translocated black rhinoceros Diceros bicornis and white rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum established populations and started to breed. Five out of seven translocated black rhinoceroses survived at least six years after release and at least one calf was born. Up to nine out of 10 translocated white rhinoceroses survived at least six years after release, with at least seven calves born. Together with immigrant animals, the white rhinoceros population numbered 23–25 individuals at that time, in widely dispersed locations (movements of 22–130 km from release points were recorded). Black rhinoceroses and white rhinoceroses were translocated from areas of encroaching human activities. Seven black rhinoceroses (four adult males, two adult females and a male calf) were translocated in October–December 1975. Ten white rhinoceroses (one adult male, one adult female, two sub-adult males and six sub-adult females) were translocated and released in two groups, reflecting two areas of capture, in April 1975.


A replicated study in 1982–1986 in two wetland sites in Missouri, USA (Erickson & McCullough 1987) found that most translocated river otters Lutra canadensis survived for at least a year after release and reproduction occurred at both release sites from two years following releases. Of otters whose status could be confirmed one year after release, 15 of 17 were alive at one site and 10 of 14 survived at the second site. Reproduction was confirmed annually at both release sites from the second year after releases. Nineteen wild-caught otters were released at a 4,455-ha wildlife refuge in March–May 1982 and 20 were released at a 2,251-ha wildlife area in April 1983. All otters were implanted with radio-transmitters. Monitoring occurred daily for the first three weeks and then 2–4 times/week until death or transmitter failure (typically at 12–14 months).


A review of studies in 1964–1982 in Newfoundland, Canada (Bergerud & Mercer 1989) found that after translocation, 17 of 22 caribou Rangifer tarandus populations persisted for at least 1–20 years. Between 1964 and 1982, a total of 384 caribou were translocated to 22 sites in Newfoundland. Caribou populations at sites were resurveyed using unspecified methods in 1981–1982.


A study in 1976–1990 in a shrubland reserve in Cape Province, South Africa (Somers & Penzhorn 1992) found that translocated warthogs Phacochoerus aethiopicus survived, bred successfully and abundance increased over approximately 10 years. Ten to 11 years after the release of 20 warthogs, numbers of warthogs counted increased to 641. Thirteen to 14 years after release, 361 individuals were counted. Separate surveys of dead warthogs found that the population comprised a mixture of age groups, including juveniles (<1 year: 67-144 individuals), yearlings (1-2 years: 31-62 individuals) and adults (>2 years: 143-204 individuals). The majority of yearling and adult females examined (80-100%) were pregnant. In 1976–1977, twenty warthogs were introduced into a 6,493-ha reserve dominated by dense thorny scrub. Warthogs were surveyed by helicopter in 1981-1990. In 1987-1990, warthogs were shot at random from helicopters in order for carcasses to be examined and population age structure estimated.


A replicated study in 1982–1991 at two riverine sites in Pennsylvania, USA (Serfass et al. 1993) found that translocated river otters Lutra canadensis released in areas with no existing otters settled and reproduced in the 6.5–8 years after release. Otter scats were widely found in both release areas, confirming continued otter presence. Two juveniles, live-trapped and released by hunters three years after translocations, provided evidence of breeding at one site. At the other site, four of seven otters killed by trappers, between three and seven years after translocations, were considered to be offspring of released animals. Twenty-two wild-caught otters (11 male, 11 female) were released in Pine Creek in 1983–1984 and four (two male, two female) were released in Kettle Creek in 1982. Follow-up monitoring of scats occurred in September–December 1990 (Pine Creek) and April 1991 (Kettle Creek). Additionally, carcasses were examined and trapping incidents reviewed.


A study in 1985–1993 of forest across two mountain areas in Arkansas, USA (Smith & Clark 1994) found that a translocated population of black bears Ursus americanus grew steadily after animals were released. Following release of an estimated 254 bears, the population grew to >2,500 bears 20 years later. Litter sizes in two study areas were 1.6–2.4 and survival to one year was 40–65%. Black bears were extirpated from Arkansas sometime after 1931, apart from a small isolated population. Approximately 254 bears were released in 1958–1968 into three main areas from which bears had been lost. Released animals were wild-caught in Minnesota and in Manitoba, Canada. Bear densities were estimated in two study areas by mark-recapture at bait stations in 1985–1990. Litter sizes were estimated from bears radio-collared in 1988–1990 and monitored through to 1993.


A replicated, controlled study in 1990–1992 at two grassland sites in Alberta, Canada (Carbyn et al. 1994) found that translocated, wild-born swift foxes Vulpes velox had higher post-release survival rates than did released captive-born animals. No statistical analyses were performed. Nine months after release into the wild, 12 out of 28 (43%) wild-born translocated swift foxes were known to be alive, compared with at least two out of 27 (7%) released captive-born swift foxes. In May 1990 and 1991, a total of 27 captive-born and 28 wild-born swift foxes were released simultaneously. Wild-born animals had been captured in Wyoming, USA, 4–7 months before release and were quarantined for ≥30 days. Animals were released without prior conditioning in holding pens. Foxes were radio-collared and monitored from the ground and air, for at least nine months.


A controlled study in 1980–1990 in a large mountainous area dominated by coniferous forest in Oregon, USA (Stussy et al. 1994) found that translocated female elk Cervus canadensis had a lower survival rate than non-translocated female elk. The average annual survival rate of translocated female elk (77% of 35 individuals) was siginificantly lower than that of non-translocated female elk resident at the release sites (92% of 35 individuals) and also appeared lower than the average annual survival rate of female elk in the whole study area (89% of 184 individuals, this result was not compared statistically to other survival rates). The study area included six national forests and eight state wildlife management districts. In 1980–1990 one hundred and eighty-four resident female elk were released at their capture site. In 1987-1990, 35 female elk were caught, radio-collared and translocated. A further 35 resident female elk were radio-collared in 1988-1989 at the translocation release site. Distances between capture and release sites of translocated elk are not given. Both non-translocated and translocated elk were located 2–4 times/month, mostly from an aircraft.


A study in 1987–1992 in a subalpine coniferous forest in Idaho, USA (Compton et al. 1995) found that approximately a quarter of translocated woodland caribou Rangifer tarandus caribou survived or had stayed at the release site two-four years after release. Fourteen out of 60 (23%) translocated woodland caribou survived two-four years after being released into the wild. Seven translocated caribou left the study area over the five-year study, of which six were during the first year after release. Twenty-seven caribou died during the same period (3 during the release process) and the outcome for 12 animals was unknown due to radio-collar failure. The average annual survival rate was 74%. Between 1987 and 1990, sixty woodland caribou were caught in British Columbia, Canada and released in the Selkirk Mountains, USA after 72 hours. Caribou were radio-tagged and were monitored weekly, from an aircraft, until February 1992.


A study in 1990–1993 in forests in Montana, USA (Servheen et al. 1995) found that three translocated female grizzly bears Ursus arctos horribilis successfully established ranges around the release site and that two survived for at least three years. All three translocated bears established movement and habitat-use patterns similar to those of non-translocated bears (no data reported). Two of the three bears survived for at least three years. Three adult female bears were translocated from the border area of Canada and the USA to the Cabinet Mountains in Montana, USA. Bears were monitored by radio-tracking until their collars failed or to the end of the study period after three years.


A study in 1988–1993 of a freshwater estuary at a national park in the Netherlands (Nolet & Baveco 1996) found that translocated Eurasian beavers Castor fiber increased in number, although were slow to breed. From 42 animals released over four years, the population grew to 47 two years after releases (including 27 animals ≥1 year old). Only in this final year did the number of births exceed the number of animals lost (through dispersal, death or other disappearance). Population Viability Analysis found that the population was unlikely to be viable (80% of simulated populations going extinct within 100 years) unless low breeding productivity was a temporary response to translocation. A total of 42 beavers, translocated from Germany, were released in October or November of 1988–1991. They were monitored by radio-tracking (from boat and plane) and direct observations of marked animals.


A replicated, controlled study in 1989–1993 in two rivers in southern Sweden (Sjöåsen 1996; same experimental set-up as Sjöåsen 1997) found that wild-born translocated European otters Lutra lutra had a higher survival rate than did released captive-bred otters. One year after release, the survival rate of wild-born translocated otters (79%) was higher than that of released captive-bred otters (42%). Between 1989 and 1992, eleven wild-born otters and 25 captive-bred otters were released into two rivers in south-central Sweden. Thirty-four otters were released in one river catchment and two in the other. Wild-born otters were live-trapped along the Norwegian coast. Captive-bred otters were descendants of two captive females. All otters were around one year old when released. All except one were released between February and June. All were fitted with an implanted radio-transmitter and monitored for one year on 64% of days.


A study in 1986–1996 in a forest and heathland reserve in Lombardy, Italy (Fornasari et al. 1997) found that a population of translocated red squirrels Sciurus vulgaris increased in size over 10 years and expanded to nearby woodlands. Three to four years after eight translocated squirrels were released, the population had increased to 38–126 squirrels. By ten years after the first release, the squirrel population had further increased and colonized all five woodlands (squirrel abundance in 1996 is not given). Between December 1986 and August 1987, eight red squirrels were translocated to a 3,500-ha reserve containing 800-ha of woodland, from which the species was extirpated in the 1940s. In February 1990, squirrel nests were counted on a 70-ha plot and the population size was estimated based on a mean of 4.5 nests/squirrel. In spring 1990 and 1996, all five woodland blocks at the release site were searched for 30 min to 1 hour for dreys or typical feeding signs.


A before-and-after study in 1996 in a mixed miombo and mopane woodland reserve in the Midlands province, Zimbabwe (Heath & Coulson 1997) found that three translocated cape pangolins Manis temminckii survived at least a month after release and one established a new home range. During the sixty-five days after release, one translocated pangolin set up a home range covering 0.45 km2. Of two adult females translocated, one returned to her original home range nine days after translocation and the other moved for 30 days (on average 1.25 km/day), without returning to the capture site or establishing a home range. One pangolin had been retrieved from a poacher and its origin and length of time in captivity were unknown. The two females were caught, radio-tagged and radio-tracked in their original capture location (for an unspecified period) before being moved and released about five and 18 km from their known home ranges within 24 hours of capture. Translocations were carried out to study effectiveness of releasing pangolins confiscated from poachers. Pangolins were monitored by radio-telemetry, and located during daytime by tracking on foot for approximately a month after release.


A study in 1989–1992 at seven lakes in boreal forest in Sweden (Sjöåsen 1997; same experimental set-up as Sjöåsen 1996) found that following release of European otters Lutra lutra (a mix of wild-caught translocated and captive-bred animals), at least 38% survived for almost a year or longer. Fourteen otters established home ranges and were still alive when last recorded, 362–702 days after release. Eight further otters were monitored until their transmitters failed or they moved out of radio contact, 89–219 days after release. Fourteen were known to have died, 18–750 days after release. Otter origin (wild-caught or captive-bred) did not affect movement distance. In 1989–1992 thirty-six otters (11 wild-caught, translocated animals and 25 captive-bred) were released in lakes and rivers in southern Sweden. Otters were fitted with radio-transmitters. Radio-tracking was carried out at least monthly, in 1989–1992.


A study in 1989–1993 at nine temperate shrubland and coniferous woodland sites in New Mexico, USA (Ruth et al. 1998) found that survival rates of translocated cougars Puma concolor were lower than those of resident populations, and two translocated females produced offspring. Nine of 13 cougars (69%) died within four years of translocation. Annual survival rates of translocated female (55%) and male (44%) cougars were lower than of non-translocated resident animals (86%). Two translocated females produced offspring. The main cause of mortality was from aggressive interactions with other cougars. In April 1989, one cougar was released at one site in the Cibola National Forest, New Mexico. From December 1990 to June 1991, thirteen cougars were released in eight sites in the Sangre de Christo Mountains, New Mexico. Released animals were radio-tracked by air or from the ground through to January 1993. Survival rates of translocated cougars were compared to those of 15 radio-tracked cougars that had not been translocated.


A study in 1995–1996 of a wildlife refuge with several wetland habitats in Indiana, USA (Johnson & Berkley 1999) found that following translocation of North America river otters Lutra canadensis, most survived at least one year after release and breeding occurred in the second year post-release. Survival one year post-release was estimated at 71%. Three otter litters were documented in the second year after release. Confirmed mortalities were three otters killed by vehicles, one dying from research-related causes and one dying of an unknown cause. River otters were extirpated from Indiana by 1942. Twenty-five otters (15 male, 10 female) were translocated from Louisiana and released in a 3,125-ha refuge in Indiana, on 17 January 1995. Fifteen otters were radio-tracked five times/week for 16 weeks, and three times/week for up to one year. Field surveys and visual observations were also used, including to document breeding activity.


A worldwide review of 33 studies (Komers & Curman 2000) found that translocating ungulates (Artiodactyla) to re-establish populations in their native range was more successful when larger numbers of animals were released, and small populations grew faster if they contained more mature individuals and had an equal ratio of males and females. All 10 translocated populations of ≥20 animals increased in number (by an average of 17%), whereas six of 23 translocated populations with ≤20 animals decreased. Small translocated populations (≤20 animals) were more likely to increase if they contained more mature individuals (females ≥3 years of age; males ≥5 years) and had an equal sex ratio (data reported as statistical model results). Analyses included 33 re-introduction studies involving nine ungulate species (including sheep, goats, elk, bison, reindeer and gazelle). Groups of 2–69 wild-caught animals were released within their native range and observed over 3–9 years (locations not reported). Studies were published (between 1959 and 1998) and unpublished (dates not reported).


A review of studies in 1989–1991 in prairie sites in Canada and the USA (Smeeton & Weagle 2000) found that following release, translocated wild-caught swift foxes Vulpes velox had higher survival rates than did captive-bred released swift foxes. Over an unspecified time period, 59% of wild-caught translocated swift foxes survived while three of 41 (7%) released captive-bred swift foxes survived. In 1989–1991, thirty-three wild-caught, adult foxes and 41 captive-bred foxes, born the previous year, were released in the spring. Methods used for monitoring animals were unclear from the review.


A study of projects carried out in 1976–1998 across 48 states in the USA (Raesly 2001) found that following translocations, river otter Lutra canadensis populations and ranges expanded in most states. Of 21 states with reintroduction programs, 15 reported having growing river otter populations, one reported a stable population and three reported stable to growing populations. Two states reported that it was too soon into their programs to judge population trends. Evidence of reproduction was reported from 18 states (82% of states with reintroductions), and range expansion was reported in 17 states (77%). In 1976–1998, river otter releases totalled 4,018 animals in 21 states. In six states, otters had been extirpated while in 15, reintroductions took place in parts of the state from which otters were absent. Releases involved an average of 19.6 otters/site. Information was gathered from telephone interviews in August–September 1998.


A replicated study in 1993–2002 in seven woodland sites across England, UK (Bright & Morris 2002) found that following releases of some wild-born translocated but mainly captive-bred common dormice Muscardinus avellanarius, populations persisted for at least three months to over seven years and all reproduced. In at least three of seven releases, dormouse populations were stable or increased from 19–57 released individuals to 40–55 individuals between two and seven years later. At one site, only one individual was detected 7–8 years after the release of 52 individuals in two batches. In three populations, the number of released animals is not provided, but populations persisted for at least three months and up to at least three years after release. Animals in all seven populations bred in the wild. Releases took place in 1993–2000 into woodlands in Cambridgeshire, Nottinghamshire, Cheshire, Warwickshire, Buckinghamshire, Yorkshire and Suffolk. Monitoring continued to 2000–2002. Precise numbers and origins of dormice released are not given for all sites. Most were captive-bred, but some were wild-born translocated animals. Some dormice were kept in pre-release holding pens, sometimes for several weeks, before release. Nest boxes and supplementary food were provided at least at some sites (see paper for further details).


A replicated study in 1977–2002 in four alpine shrub and meadow sites in the Eastern Italian Alps, Italy (Borgo 2003) found that translocated alpine marmot Marmota marmota populations persisted for at least five years. At the first translocation site, 23 marmot families (28.4 family units/km2) were counted 22 and 25 years after release. At the second site, 13 marmot family groups were counted 16 years after release (13.8 family units/km2). After 12 more marmots were added to the second site in 2001, the population increased to 18 family units in 2002. A further two marmot populations were described as persisting for 5-7 years with 11-16 family groups (assisted by some restocking in one site). In 1977, 1983, 1995 and 1997, alpine marmots were released in four sites (150, 168, 472 and 1,005 ha respectively) in the Friulian Dolomites Natural Park. The number of individuals released is not reported. The origin of animals is not explicitly stated, but releases appear to be of translocated wild marmots. In May 1999–2002, winter burrows were located as marmots emerged from hibernation. Marmots were identified by tracks in the snow and each winter burrow was considered to be occupied by one family unit. Authors state that marmots were released in many isolated areas from the 1960s onward, but introduction was only successful in a few of them.


A study in 1989–1998 in two forest sites in Vermont, USA (Moruzzi et al. 2003) found that after translocation of American martens Martes americana, the population did not persist. One to six years after introductions, there was evidence that 3–4 martens were present in the area but, after seven to eight years, there was no evidence of a marten population. In 1989–1991, a total of 115 martens (88 males, 27 females) were captured in Maine and New York State and released at two sites in southern Vermont. Forty of the martens were held in boxes at the release site for several days before release and 75 were released immediately after transport to the release site. Thirteen martens were fitted with radio-collars and monitored using telemetry until March 1991. In January–February 1990, surveys were carried out for marten tracks in the snow. In October 1994 to January 1995, January–March 1998 and the summers of 1997 and 1998, camera traps were placed at 20–285 locations to survey martens.


A study in 1994–2001 in two forest reserves in Espı́rito Santo, Brazil (Chiarello et al. 2004) found that translocated maned sloths Bradypus torquatus survived over 13 months and up to at least 36 months after release. All five translocated sloths survived the whole length of the post-release monitoring period (9–13 or 36 months). Two female sloths gave birth but all young were predated. Moving/resting and feeding time and daily distances travelled were not related to time since release. Between 1994 and 1999, five sloths were translocated from within or close to urban areas into two forests (500–900 ha, encompassing reserves and private forest land). Sloths were radio-collared and monitored 1–3 days/month for 9–13 months (four animals) and 36 months (one animal). Each sloth was observed from 07:00 to 17:00 h for totals of 182–509 hours. Data on activity budgets, home range size and diet were collected.


A review study of 66 translocations of 14 mammal species in Western Australia (Mawson 2004) found that over half of translocations, for which the outcome could be determined, were classified as successful. Out of 20 mammal translocations with a confirmed outcome, 11 (55%) were classed as successful and nine (45%) as non-successful. At the time of the review, the outcome of 46 translocations (68% of all translocations studied) remained uncertain. Species translocated were quokka Setonix brachyurus, black-flanked rock-wallaby Petrogale lateralis, tammar wallaby Macropus eugenii, brush-tailed bettong Bettongia penicillata, boodie Bettongia lesueur, common wallaroo Macropus robustus, numbat Myrmecobius fasciatus, southern brown bandicoot Isoodon obesulus, western barred bandicoot Perameles bougainville, western ringtail possum Pseudocheirus occidentalis, greater stick-nest rat Leporillus conditor, shark bay mouse Pseudomys fieldi, Thevenard Island mouse Leggadina lakedownensis and pebble-mound mouse Pseudomys sp. In 1993–2002, between 5–188 individuals of each species were translocated to different locations. Invasive mammals were controlled in some recipient sites. Two translocations included some captive-bred animals but most were translocated from wild populations. The definition of successful translocation was not stated for most species but, for others, it included measures of population increase and persistence.


A study in 1995–2002 in a mixed oak forest reserve in the south of France (Calenge et al. 2005) found that following translocation in groups (alongside other associated actions), approximately half of female roe deer Capreolus capreolus survived over one year after release and that overall the deer population increased six years after the translocations began. Twenty-six out of 49 (53%) translocated female roe deer survived over one year post-release. Of the animals that died in the first year, 35% of mortality occurred within the first month after release. After six years the deer population had increased to 0.47 deer/km2 compared to 0.06 deer/km2 in the first year after translocation began. In February 1995–1997, fifty-two male and 52 female roe deer were translocated from Northern France into a 3,300-ha forest reserve in Southern France in seven release sessions. Animals were released in groups of approximately 15 individuals. They were initially placed into enclosures for 2-10 days and provided food during this time (pellets and fresh vegetables) prior to release. Forty-nine females (21 <1 year old and 28 >1 year old) were radio-tagged and were located from a vehicle once or twice each week, over one year post-release. In addition, surveys were carried out on foot (6 transects, each 5-7 km long) eight times a year in February-March 1996-2002 to estimate population growth. Deer were present in low numbers prior to translocation.


A study in 1999–2003 in a temperate forest site in northern Italy (Preatoni et al. 2005) found that most translocated brown bears Ursus arctos survived 2–3 years after release. Two to three years after release of 10 bears, at least eight were alive. In 1999–2002, ten bears (3 males, 7 females; all 3–6 years old) were captured in two sites in Slovenia and fitted with radio-collars and ear-tag transmitters. Animals were released in Adamello-Brenta Natural Park, Italy. Bears were located from the ground twice each day using radio antennae, from May 1999 to October 2003.


A study in 1988–1991 on an offshore island dominated by temperate forest in Georgia, USA (Diefenbach et al. 2006) found that translocated bobcats Lynx rufus increased in numbers and reproduced in the wild. One year after the first releases, population density was 1 bobcat/10 km2. One year after the second releases, population density was 3 bobcats/10 km2. Over the two years after the first releases, 12 offspring were born. In September–December of 1988–1989, thirty-two bobcats fitted with radio-collars were released on Cumberland Island. Bobcats had previously become extinct on the island, in 1907. Radio signals were monitored throughout the year from the ground or from an aircraft. If females showed reduced movement, their location was visited to identify if they had given birth.


A replicated, controlled study in 2002–2004 on two islands in Florida, USA (Faulhaber et al. 2006) found that translocated Lower Keys marsh rabbits Sylvilagus palustris hefneri had post-release survival rates similar to those of animals in established populations. Of rabbits whose fate was known, nine of eleven (81%) translocated to one island survived ≥5 months (two were predated) and all six (100%) translocated to another island survived ≥5 months. Eleven out of 14 (79%) caught and released at capture sites survived ≥5 months, with two predated and one dying from unknown causes. Transmitter failure curtailed monitoring of two further rabbits from these groups. Twelve rabbits, caught in 2002, were released within two hours of capture onto a nearby rabbit-free island. Seven rabbits, caught in 2004, were released onto a different rabbit-free island. In 2002, nine rabbits were also released at respective capture sites. Rabbit survival was determined by radio-tracking.


A study in 2002–2005 in two wetland areas in the Netherlands (Lammertsma et al. 2006) found that following translocation, and release of some captive-bred animals, most Eurasian otters Lutra lutra settled in their release areas, where successful breeding then occurred. After three weeks, 14 of 23 otters settled within their release areas, while two died and seven moved away from release areas. Three years after the first translocations, five female otters had successfully reproduced, producing nine young. At this time, the total population was 12 otters. In 2002, fifteen wild-caught otters were released at one site. At a second site, in 2004–2005, eight animals, comprising a mix of wild-caught and captive-bred individuals, were released. Before release, animals were fitted with radio-transmitters and DNA samples were taken. Following release, otters were monitored by radio-tracking and by collection of faeces, which was analysed to identify animals individually.


A study in 2001–2003 in woodland across Peninsula Michigan, USA (34) found that translocated American martens Martes americana established a population. Ninety-four trapped martens had a sex ratio of 1.5 males for each female (1.9:1 considering just adults). This was not significantly different from the ratio of 2:1 which authors stated that for trapped animals, indicated that the harvest was sustainable. The age ratio was 3.3 juveniles (≤1.5 years old) for each adult (≥2.5 years old) female. This also was not significantly different from the ratio of 3:1, stated as indicating a sustainable harvest. Translocations into five areas in Peninsula Michigan, where martens had been extirpated, occurred in 1955–1957, 1968–1970 and 1979. These involved 276 martens. In 1989–1992, sixty-six martens were translocated internally within Peninsula Michigan. Marten trapping was permitted in limited areas from 2000. Sex and age data were determined for 94 martens obtained from commercial trappers in 2001–2003.


A controlled study in 1999–2002 in a shrubland site in Huelva, Spain (Cabezas & Moreno 2007) found that translocation of European rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus increased rabbit abundance. Average rabbit abundance over the study was higher in translocation plots (5.0 pellets/m2) than in non-translocation plots (1.9 pellets/m2). The study was conducted in two 4-ha plots (≥1 km apart) in Doñana National Park. Annually, over three years, two batches of 32–34 rabbits were translocated into one plot and no translocations occurred in the other plot. The first two batches were translocated in November 1999 and February 2000. Plots were then switched such that the second and third pairs of translocations (December 2000 and February 2001, and January and March 2002) were released into what was the non-translocation plot for the first batch. Between September 1999 and November 2002, rabbit abundance was estimated every two months by counting the number of pellets in 33 fixed‐position 0.5-m diameter sampling points/plot. Wild rabbits were present in all plots prior to translocations beginning.


A review of studies conducted in 1985–2005 at 11 grassland and dry savanna sites in Eastern Cape, South Africa (Hayward et al. 2007) found that reintroductions (mainly through translocations) of large carnivores led to increasing population sizes for four of six species. Twenty years after the first releases, there were 56 lions Panthera leo at seven sites (from 31 released), 41 cheetahs Acinonyx jubatus (seven sites, 40 released), 24 African wild dogs Lycaon pictus (two sites, 11 released) and 13 spotted hyena Crocuta crocuta (three sites, 11 released). There were reductions or unknown trends in two species with seven known surviving leopards Panthera pardus (five sites, 15 released) and an unknown number of servals Leptailurus serval (though known to be present - two sites, 16 released). Releases were made in 1985–2005, into 11 protected areas. Most schemes involved translocations of wild-caught animals, but at least one of seven lion reintroductions involved captive-bred animals. Monitoring methods are not specified.


A replicated, controlled study (year not provided) in six protected areas across five states in western USA (Hicks et al. 2007) found that translocated elk Cervus canadensis populations had similar levels of genetic diversity compared to non-translocated populations. The genetic diversity (expressed as ‘expected heterozygosity’, He) of translocated elk populations (0.51–0.60 He) did not differ significantly from that of the source population (0.60 He). Between 1912 and 1985, five populations of elk were founded using animals translocated from source herds in Yellowstone National Park. Translocated populations had different founding histories but starting populations ranged from 12 to >150 individuals. The size of the translocated populations at the time of the research was 500–10,000 elk. In each population, 17–43 samples of skin or muscle tissue were collected from hunter-harvested elks. Tissue samples were frozen or stored in ethanol before DNA extraction. The dates of sample collection and laboratory work are not provided.


A study in 1990–2005 in a forest site in Montana and northern Idaho, USA (Kasworm et al. 2007) found that most translocated female brown bears Ursus arctos survived for at least one year after release and at least one of four reproduced in the release area. Three of the four translocated bears (75%) survived for at least one year. The fourth bear died of unknown causes. After 12 years, at least one translocated bear was alive and had produced two litters with different males. In 1990–1994, four young wild female bears were caught in southeastern British Columbia and released in the Cabinet Mountains (no more than one released each summer). Radio-satellite monitoring was carried out over 1–2 years after release. Hair samples were collected from 2000–2005 and genetic analysis was used to determine presence of translocated bears and their offspring.


A study in 2001–2003 in agricultural fields and mixed woodland in a mountain range in Fundão, Portugal (Carvalho et al. 2008) found that most translocated roe deer Capreolus capreolus survived more than two years after release. At least five out of seven translocated roe deer (71%) survived more than two years after release. One was found dead and the radio-transmitted of another stopped working. In winter 2001, fourteen adult roe deer were released into a 50-km2 area. Roe deer had been absent for the area for more than a century. Seven of the 14 deer were radio-tagged. Tagged animals were located daily during summer 2002 (May–September) and winter 2002–2003 (November–March).


A review in 2008 of 49 studies in 1990–2006 of carnivore reintroductions in Africa, Europe, and North America (Jule et al. 2008) found that wild-born translocated animals had higher survival rates than did released captive-bred animals. Survival of wild-born translocated carnivores (53%) was higher than survival of captive-born animals following release (32%). The review analysed 20 reintroductions of 983 captive-bred carnivores and 29 reintroductions of 1,169 wild-caught carnivores. Post-release monitoring ranged in duration from 6 to 18 months.


A before-and-after, site comparison study in 2002–2006 in two alpine grassland sites in British Columbia, Canada (Kinley & Newhouse 2008) found that translocating American badgers Taxidea taxus increased the population growth rate at the recipient site, but survival was lower than in a nearby resident population. The badger population growth rate was higher at the recipient site after translocation than before and was similar to that found in a nearby non-translocated population (data reported as geometric growth rate). Ten young were born to translocated badgers. The adult annual survival rate was lower in the release site (77%) than in a nearby resident population (90%). In 2002, sixteen badgers were translocated from north-western Montana to supplement a declining population at a site in British Columbia. Translocated badgers were monitored in 2002–2006, by radio-tracking, from an aeroplane. Comparisons were made with a nearby site containing a resident badger population.


A randomized, controlled study in 2005–2006 in a plantation in Georgia, USA (Gammons et al. 2009) found that most translocated nine-banded armadillos Dasypus novemcinctus dispersed from their release site within the first few days after release. Eleven out of 12 translocated armadillos (92%) dispersed from their release sites within the first few days (duration not specified) after release. Only six of the translocated animals were successfully relocated, of which two returned to their original capture sites, and three made long-distance movements away from their release sites. However, all 29 armadillos released at their original capture site remained near their release sites over the same period and maintained stable home ranges (3–30 ha). Between May 2005 and March 2006, forty-one armadillos were captured using long-handled dip nets and unbaited wire cage traps. Twelve armadillos were randomly selected to be translocated and the remainder were released at their capture sites. Translocated animals were released 0.7–8.1 km from their capture site. All individuals were tagged with transmitters and monitored 3–4 times/week for up to 358 days.


A study in 2001–2006 on grassland in a national park in Botswana (Støen et al. 2009) found that most translocated white rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum released in groups survived at least three years after release, but some dispersed away from the park when released into areas already occupied by released animals. Of 32 rhinoceroses released into the park in four batches during just over two years, five died soon after release and 21 remained in the park through to three years after the final release. Six (all females) left the park. All were from the final release. The authors suggest that this may be because suitable habitat close to the release site was already occupied by previously released animals. Rhinoceroses, sourced from protected sanctuaries, were all released from the same boma, in four batches, from November 2001 to November 2003. They were monitored by radio-tracking from a vehicle or aircraft, through to 2006.


A replicated study in 1949-2001 in South Africa (Van Houtan et al. 2009) found that following translocations inside and outside of their historical ranges, population sizes of most of 22 species of grazing mammals increased. Following translocation, 82 out of 125 populations (66%) of 22 grazing mammals (white rhinoceros Ceratotherium simum, mountain zebra Equus zebra, plains zebra Equus quagga, giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis, African buffalo Syncerus caffer and seventeen species of antelope) exhibited positive growth rates (data presented as results of population growth models). Population models were based on long-term monitoring data from 178 populations relocated to 24 reserves in 1949-1978 (see original paper for details). Only translocations with five or more consecutive years of monitoring results were included (125 translocations, monitoring data duration: 5–47 years). Translocation details are not provided but authors state that most translocated populations began with fewer than 15 individuals and that most reserves contained water impoundments and lacked top predators, such as lions Panthera leo or spotted hyenas Crocuta crocuta. Seventeen of the 22 species were introduced outside of their historical range.


A replicated study in 1951–2007 in 10 desert sites in Arizona and New Mexico, USA, and the Gulf of California, Mexico (Wakeling et al. 2009) found that translocating desert bighorn sheep Ovis canadensis did not increase the population size at the release site. No bighorn sheep populations which were supplemented with translocated individuals significantly increased in size (data not presented). Between 1951 and 1990, a total of 654 bighorn sheep were released, but details of individual releases are not provided. Data were obtained from historical records for ten sites with long-term survey and hunting information. Data included counts of bighorn sheep from both surveys and hunter harvests, and bighorn sheep translocations.


A study in 1999–2008 in an area of mixed agricultural land, forest, and grassland in the Alps of northern Italy (De Barba et al. 2010) found that following translocation, brown bears Ursus arctos bred successfully in the release area and the population increased, but genetic diversity declined. Three years after the first translocations, there were 10 bears in the area. By nine years after the first translocations, this increased to 27–31 bears. Over this time, 35 cubs had been born. However, genetic diversity declined over time (data reported as allelic richness). In 1999–2002, nine bears were caught in Slovenia and translocated into Trentino, Italy, where the resident population had fallen to around three individuals. In 2002–2008, hair and faecal samples were collected opportunistically and along transects. Samples were also collected from bear carcasses found in the area. DNA from these samples was analysed to identify individuals and to measure genetic diversity.


A study in 2002–2008 in an area of peatland, fen, woodland, ditches and lakes in the Netherlands (Koelewijn et al. 2010) found that after release of 30 translocated and captive-bred Eurasian otters Lutra lutra, at least six were still alive six years later and some had reproduced. Most dead otters recovered were killed in collisions with road vehicles. Fifty-four offspring from released otters or their descendants were detected. Between July 2002 and November 2007, thirty otters were released. Seventeen were translocated, wild-caught animals and 13 were captive-bred. A publicity campaign encouraged people to report dead otters that they found. These were then examined to establish cause of death.


A controlled study in 1999–2001 on three grassland sites in an area in South Dakota, USA (Biggins et al. 2011) found that wild-born translocated black-footed ferret Mustela nigripes kits had higher survival rates after release than did captive-born kits released from holding pens. Thirty-day post-release survival of captive-born kits (66%) was lower than that of wild-born translocated kits at the same site (94%). Annual survival was also for lower for captive-born kits (females: 44%; males: 22%) than for wild-born kits (females: 67%; males: 43%). Annual survival at the donor site remained high (females: 80%; males: 51%) whilst survival of translocated and released kits was comparable with that at an unmanipulated colony (females: 59%; males: 28%). Eighteen wild-born ferrets were released along with 18 captive-bred ferrets at a site from which the species was then absent. Captive-born ferrets were transferred to outdoor conditioning pens, sited on prairie dog colonies, when about 90 days old and then released on 29 September and 13 October 1999. Wild-born ferrets were released the day after capture. All were born in 1999. Ferrets at the release site, the donor site for wild-born kits and an unmanipulated site were monitored by radio-tracking and by reading transponder chips.


A review of studies in 1991–2008 at 11 grassland sites in the USA and Mexico (Jachowski et al. 2011) found that most captive-bred (with some translocated) black-footed ferret Mustela nigripes releases were unsuccessful at maintaining a population, but success was higher where prey was abundant over larger areas. Of 11 reintroduction sites, populations of more than 30 adult black-footed ferrets were maintained at four sites over two years without further reintroductions. Two sites no longer contained ferrets by December 2008, and the other five sites only had small populations or were supplemented by further releases. Sites where populations were maintained tended to have more prairie dogs Cynomys spp., the main prey species of black-footed ferrets, covering a larger area (at least 4,300 ha) and with a higher density of animals (data presented as index of prairie dog abundance). From 1991–2008, around 2,964 captive-bred and 157 translocated wild ferrets were released at 18 sites in multiple releases. The study reports success of the 11 sites where initial releases occurred before 2003. Sites received on average over 200 ferrets over 10 years. Ferrets were monitored by annual spotlight surveys to locate, capture and uniquely mark individuals.


A study in 1987–2009 in grassland and shrubland in the Western Cape, South Africa (Watson et al. 2011) found that numbers of translocated Cape mountain zebra Equus zebra zebra increased four-fold over 19 years. Nineteen years after release, there were four times more Cape mountain zebras (48) than at the time of release (12). In the first 14 years after translocations, 13 foals were born. In 1987–1990, twelve Cape mountain zebras were translocated into a 3,435-ha national park dominated by renosterveld and fynbos vegetation. No translocation or monitoring details are provided. Grass availability was promoted by artificial fires at four-year intervals.


A replicated study in 2000–2007 in two mountain sites in northern Utah, USA (Whiting et al. 2011) found that following translocation of bighorn sheep Ovis canadensis, 48–98% of young descended from these animals survived into their first winter. The average survival of bighorn sheep lambs to their first winter was 48% at one site and 55–98% at the second site. In January and February 2000–2002 and 2007, one hundred and fourteen wild-born bighorn sheep (including 92 adult females) were translocated to Mount Timpanogos (67 females, 11 males, 4 young) and Rock Canyon (25 females, 4 males, 3 young). Thirty-one individuals on Mount Timpanogos and 10 in Rock Canyon were fitted with radio-collars. Collared and uncollared females were relocated every 4–5 days from April–July 2001–2007 to count the number of young born. The number of young that survived to their first winter was determined by comparing the highest number of young observed during winter (October to March) with the number observed in the previous spring (April to July).


A study in 2003–2009 in a temperate grassland site in South Dakota, USA (Sasmal et al. 2013) found that translocating swift foxes Vulpes velox led to the establishment of a population in which genetic diversity of wild-born descendants was at least as high as that of the translocated animals. For two key measures of genetic diversity, values for descendants of translocated foxes (heterozygosity: 0.75; allelic richness: 11.2) were at least as high as those of the translocated animals (heterozygosity: 0.75–0.78; allelic richness: 7.5–8.6). In 2003–2006, one hundred and eight wild-caught swift foxes from Colorado and Wyoming were released into a national park in South Dakota from which the species had been extirpated. Four hundred DNA samples (108 from translocated foxes and 292 collected in 2004–2009 from their wild-born descendants) were analyzed for measures of genetic diversity.


A study in 1978–2004 and a controlled study in 2006–2009 in an alpine site comprising forest, rock and scree in Italy (Scillitani et al. 2013) found that following translocations of Alpine ibex Capra ibex, the population increased and translocated ibex used similar habitats to resident ibex. Twenty-three years after translocation, the estimated number of Alpine ibex (456 individuals) was higher than the number released (10 individuals). However, two years later the population declined by 75% due to a sarcoptic mange epidemic. Following further translocations, released ibex selected the same habitat resources as used by resident ibex (data presented as an ordination analysis), but translocated ibex initially occupied larger ranges and were separated from resident animals. By one year after release the home range size of translocated and resident ibex was similar, and by three years translocated animals were integrated into the resident social group. In 1978–1979, ten Alpine ibex were translocated from the Gran Paradiso National Park to the Marmolada massif in the Alps. In 2006–2007, fourteen additional male ibex were translocated to reinforce the Marmolada massif population. All ibex translocated in 2006–2007 were radio-collared. From 2006–2009, sixty-seven resident male ibex from the established population were caught and ear-tagged and 52 were radio-collared. Translocated and established ibex were followed for 3–4 years.


A study in 1986­–2011 in two reserves in western Nepal (Thapa et al. 2013) found that translocated populations of the greater one-horned rhinoceros Rhinoceros unicornis persisted for at least 11–25 years post-release. On one reserve, there were 67 rhinoceroses in 2000, fourteen years after the first translocations, but this fell to a count of 24 rhinoceroses 11 years later. Poaching was thought to be the main cause of deaths. The second reserve had seven rhinoceroses 11 years after the translocations. Between 1986 and 2003, eighty-three rhinoceroses (38 males, 45 females) were translocated to Bardia National Park and, in 2000, four rhinoceros (three females and one male) were translocated to Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve, which already held a single male. From 1986–2003, rhinoceros in Bardia National Park were protected by anti-poaching patrols formed of 10–15 soldiers and in 2007 a nationwide anti-poaching programme was launched. Monitoring details are not provided.


A replicated, randomized, controlled study in 2008–2009 in 10 pine plantation sites in Ñuble Province, Chile (Villaseñor et al. 2013) found that translocated long-haired field mice Abrothrix longipilis travelled two- to four-times further and had lower survival than non-translocated mice. The average maximum distance travelled from the release site was longer in translocated mice (125–199 m) than in non-translocated mice (50 m). Mice released 0–100 m from their capture location had higher survival rates (20/20 survived) than mice translocated 500–1,300 m (14/18 survived). Additionally, eight of 10 mice that were translocated short distances (100 m) and nine of 10 mice which were released at their capture site returned to or stayed in their capture location, whereas mice which were translocated further (500 m = 1 of 10; 1,300 m = 0 of 10) did not return to their capture locations. From January–March 2008 and 2009, four male long-haired field mice were trapped at each of 10 sites in Quirihue and Cobquecura, using 80 baited live traps (3 × 3.5 × 9 inches) per site. Mice from each capture site were randomly allocated to one of four groups, which were released at sunset either at the capture site or 100, 500, and 1,300 m from their capture point. Each individual was radio-tagged and relocated once/day for three days after release.


A study in 2009–2012 on mixed grassland, shrub and woodland vegetation in a mountainous region in Wyoming, USA (Clapp et al. 2014) found that following translocation of bighorn sheep Ovis canadensis, most animals survived at least 60 days after release. Sixty days after release, at least 62 of the 64 translocated sheep were alive. One sheep died, probably due to capture-induced stress, and the GPS collar on another malfunctioned after release, so it could not be tracked. In 2009–2012, seventy-seven bighorn sheep were released. Of these, 65 were GPS-collared and signals were received from 64 of the collars after release (including the one that subsequently failed). Location data were collected for 18 months after release though survival data only for the first 60 days are presented.


A review of translocations carried out in 1969–2006 in Australia (Clayton et al. 2014) found that translocating wild-born and releasing captive-bred macropod species (kangaroos and allies) led to the successful establishment of populations in 44 of 72 cases. Of the established populations, 29 persisted for more than five years. Of the 28 releases considered to be failures, 17 were thought to have failed due to predation by non-native carnivores, such as red foxes Vulpes vulpes. Releases considered in the review included both wild-caught, translocated animals and captive-bred animals. The number of animals released ranged from one to 70 and included 20 different macropod species. Only translocations where animals were released into areas larger than 100 ha were considered for the review.


A replicated study in 2011–2014 of two grasslands in Slovakia (Löbbová & Hapl 2014) found that translocated European ground squirrels Spermophilus citellus bred in small numbers after four years of releases. Nine juveniles in four litters during the fourth year of releases were the first breeding evidence at one site (with 174 animals released up to then). At a second site, also during the fourth year of releases, a female with five young was the first breeding evidence (with 284 animals released up to then). Ground squirrels were translocated in 2011–2014. Some were lost to predators (e.g. red fox Vulpes vulpes and feral cat Felis cattus). Heavy rain in spring 2013 and 2014 may have reduced the population at one site. Grass cutting was required to maintain suitable habitat at one site. Ground squirrels were translocated from nearby donor sites, especially airfields. Monitoring focussed on burrows as well as counting individuals, aided by individual fur clipping patterns.


A study in 1972–2011 in a grassland and rock area above the treeline in central Appenines, Italy (Lovari et al. 2014) found that a population of translocated red deer Cervus elaphus released in groups persisted at least 24 years after release, but over the same period, the density of Apennine chamois Rupicapra pyrenaica ornata in the area almost halved. Red deer pellets were detected in 31-35 out of 38 (82-92%) sampling plots 23-24 years after translocation. However, authors reported that over a similar period, chamois density almost halved in the core area of their range (1984–1985: c. 38/100 ha; 2012: c. 20 individuals/100 ha). Authors found a large space (> 75%) and diet (> 90%) overlap between deer and chamois, an increase in unpalatable plant species and a reduced bite rate of adult female chamois in patches also used by deer (see paper for details). Forty-five red deer were translocated into Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park in 1972 (0.5 individuals/100 ha). A further 36 deer were released in groups of 7-10 individuals (in 4 operations) in 1972-1987. In June–October 2010 and 2011, the presence/absence of groups of >5 red deer pellets was recorded in circular, 5-m radius, sampling plots, randomly placed in 38 grassland sites. Sites were located in a 65-ha mountainous area above the treeline.


A study in 2003–2007 in a mixed shrub, grassland and forest area near Madrid, Spain (Refoyo et al. 2015) found that following translocation, Iberian ibex Capra pyrenaica numbers increased and ibex expanded their range. In the first eight to 10 years after translocation began, ibex numbers increased by 23%/year on average (at release: 67 individuals; after 8-10 years: 359 individuals), by 36%/year for the next three years (after 11-13 years: 773 individuals), and by 19%/year in the following four years (after 15-17 years: 1,523 individuals). The birth rate was 0.76 calves/adult female and the area that ibex occupied increased from 2,102 ha in 2000 to 3,279 ha in 2007. In 1990–1992, sixty-seven wild-born Iberian ibex (41 females and 26 males) were translocated to a 4,890-ha national park. The translocated population was monitored between May and June in 2000, 2005, and 2007. Ibex were counted along 22 transects (average length 3.6 km) using binoculars. Transects were walked 2–3 hours after sunrise or 2–3 hours before sunset. The study area included high altitude (1,100–2,200 m) shrubland, grassland and forest areas.


A study in 1999–2012 of woodland in and around a national park in Italy (Tosi et al. 2015) found that, following the start of translocations, a re-established brown bear Ursus arctos population increased steadily in numbers over 12 years. From 10 bears translocated to the area in 1999–2001, the population grew by 20% annually in 2002–2006, with the rate gradually falling to 16% annual growth by 2012. Breeding was first recorded in 2002, with ≥74 cubs born in ≥34 reproductive events up to 2012. At that point, there were 47 bears in the population (16 adults, 14 juveniles and 17 cubs). Ten bears (seven female, three male) were translocated from Slovenia in 1999–2001. Up to 2012, twenty-one young males had dispersed from the province (though six subsequently returned). Other documented population losses included those attributed to illegal hunting, road casualties and removal of problem bears.


A controlled study in 2008–2010 in a mountain site in the Central Apennines, Italy (Bocci et al. 2016) found that wild-caught translocated Apennine chamois Rupicapra pyrenaica ornata survived and reproduced in similar numbers to released captive-bred chamois, but captive-born chamois remained closer to the release site. Seven of eight captive-born (88%) and seven of eight (88%) wild-caught translocated Apennine chamois survived over five months after release. Four of five captive-born (80%) and three of five wild-caught translocated (60%) female chamois reproduced in the first year after release. During the first week after release, captive-born chamois remained closer to the release site (within 1.1 km on average) than wild-caught chamois (average 1.8 km). Eight captive-born chamois (2.5–11.5 years old, five females and three males) and eight wild-caught translocated chamois (2.5–10.5 years old, five females and three males) were released into Sibillini Mountains National Park. Chamois were released in groups of one-three individuals; each group was all wild or all captive-born. Captive-born chamois were bred in large enclosures within four national parks. Translocated chamois were taken from a national park approximately 200 km away. All of the 16 released chamois were fitted with radio-collars and monitored for five months after release in 2008–2010.


A replicated study in 1971–2014 in 13 forested mountainous areas in Catalonia, Spain (Torres et al. 2016) found that translocating roe deer Capreolus capreolus resulted in a six-fold increase in distribution after multiple translocation events. Forty-two years after the first translocation roe deer were present in 85% of Catalonia (2013: 288 10 × 10 km squares), a six-fold increase on the area occupied compared to 23 years after the first translocation (1994: 52 10 × 10 km squares). Between 1971 and 2008, five hundred and fourty-two translocated roe deer were released in 13 areas across Catalonia. Deer were captured from the wild in France and Spain and released after 24 hours directly into protected areas. In 1971–1992, animals (46 individuals) were translocated into areas already occupied by roe deer and in 1993–2008 into areas where roe deer were currently absent (496 individuals). Distribution data were obtained from terrestrial mammal distributions atlases supplemented by traffic police reports, hunting data and sightings by volunteers.


A study in 1963–2010 in two areas of mixed broadleaf and montane forest with alpine meadows in the northern Carpathian mountains of Ukraine, Slovakia and Poland (Ziółkowska et al. 2016) found that three European bison Bison bonasus herds persisted >6 years after the last release of translocated individuals. Between 6–47 years after releases, around 320 free-ranging European bison survived in the three herds. Two herds (totalling about 300 individuals) resulted from 30–47-year-old translocations. The third herd (about 20 individuals) resulted from a translocation some six years earlier. The study was conducted in the Polish Bieszczady Mountains and in the Slovak Poloniny National. Bison were translocated to the Polish Bieszczady Mountains between 1963 and 1980 and to the Slovak Poloniny National in 2004. No details are provided on the number of animals translocated nor on their origin. GPS locations of bison were collected in 2001–2010 (29,382 records). No monitoring details are provided, but bison presence data included direct observations, tracks, faeces and signs of feeding. Six bison were radio-tracked in 2002–2006 (two locations recorded at least twice a week).

Referenced papers

Please cite as:

Littlewood, N.A., Rocha, R., Smith, R.K., Martin, P.A., Lockhart, S.L., Schoonover, R.F., Wilman, E., Bladon, A.J., Sainsbury, K.A., Pimm S. and Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Terrestrial Mammal Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for terrestrial mammals excluding bats and primates. Synopses of Conservation Evidence Series. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.