Temporarily move reptiles away from short-term threats
Overall effectiveness category Awaiting assessment
Number of studies: 2
Background information and definitions
Some threats to reptile habitat may be planned and take place over set time periods. This could include, for example, construction works or habitat management activities such as brush cutting which may injure or kill reptiles. In these circumstances it may be desirable to temporarily remove individuals and hold them in captivity while the planned works are carried out and then release the same animals back into their original environment.
For studies on the effect of permanently moving reptiles away from threats, see Translocate reptiles away from threats.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated study in 1989–1990 and 1993–1994 of roadside verges in Toulon, France (Guyot & Clobert 1997) found that almost a quarter of Hermann’s tortoises Testudo hermanni temporarily relocated during highway construction were recaptured 4–5 years after release. Four–five years after the completion of a highway, 70 of 284 (25%) temporarily relocated and released Hermann’s tortoises were recaptured. The first-year survival rate was estimated to be 51% and annual survival rate was estimated to be 78%. Most recaptured tortoises were discovered in the vicinity of their release location. While in temporary captivity, 16 of 300 tortoises died. In May 1989, a total of 300 tortoises were captured and held in an enclosure until the completion of a highway in October 1990. Tortoises were provided with supplementary food several times a week while in captivity. The new highway was fenced to limit tortoise access to the road and two culverts and a road underpass were constructed to facilitate tortoise movements. Visual searches for tortoises were carried out either side of the highway in April–October 1993–1994.Study and other actions tested
A replicated, randomized, controlled, before-and-after study in 2013–2014 in abandoned vineyards, pine and oak forest in Catalonia, Spain (Vilardell-Bartino et al. 2015) found that after being temporarily removed and then returned after ground vegetation was cleared, western Hermann’s tortoises Testudo hermanni hermanni were still in the area. Six months after release following vegetation cutting, five Hermann’s tortoises had been observed in cleared plots compared to four tortoises before clearance (whether they were the same tortoises is not known) and single nests were laid in two of 50 cleared plots. Eighteen months after cutting, single nests were laid in five of 50 plots. In February 2013, fifty plots (100m2 each) at three sites were cleared of shrub cover using a brush cutter. Fifteen tortoises were removed before cutting using trained detection dogs Canis lupus familiaris and put back afterwards. Plots were monitored for tortoises once a week in March–August 2013 and checked for nests in August 2013 and 2014.Study and other actions tested