Endangered Species

Using Translocation to Save Wildlife

Translocation, which is the capture, transport and release of an animal species, is becoming more popular in wildlife conservation around our world. Ever since I was a child reading Gerald Durrell’s books I have been a fan of translocation to save threatened and endangered animals. Here are a few successful examples.

CNN reports that by September 2017, the NGO African Parks will have moved 500 elephants away from poaching and habitat loss in Liwonde and one other reserve. The elephants are being taken to Nkhotakota, a 19,000-hectare sanctuary, which doesn’t yet have these problems. But the population of Africa is forecast to double by 2050, so a future translocation may be necessary.

In May 2016, World Wildlife Fund Australia airlifted 23 threatened black-flanked rock-wallabies away from where they were being threatened by foxes, feral cats and goats in the Wheatbelt. They were taken on a translocation to Kalbarri National Park, where a program to reduce foxes, cats and goats is being successful. The program used airlifting because driving the wallabies for 7 hours would have stressed them out too much.

Meanwhile, Wildlife Preservation Canada has been working to make a reintroduction of the swift fox in the mid-1990’s a winning move. A small number of swift foxes were placed into southern Alberta and Saskatchewan, and then monitored. The current Canadian population is now estimated at 300 individuals, and a team is analysing if the species’ status should be downlisted from endangered to threatened.

I foresee large translocation efforts tied into saving wildlife and plants from climate change, and I am not alone. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is starting to consider relocating species because of climate change. Although such a plan may lead to invasive species or other issues, the day may come when we don’t have any real choice but to give it a try.

Live Science further reports that “an estimated million species worldwide could face potential extinction as a result of climate changes predicted to occur in the next 50 years, according to a 2004 report in the scientific journal Nature”. Hopefully over the next few years conservationists will be able to figure out how to feasibly move ecosystems with their related species, and how to do it without spending many millions of dollars.


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Alison Wheatley

Alison Wheatley

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