Chief Executive’s Blog
June 19, 2015 § Leave a comment
We have just sent off more than 100 Partula snails (also known as Polynesian tree snails) to the Zoological Society of London, to be screened as part of our overarching re-release programme. As you may or may not know, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland has been involved in the conservation of the Partula snail since 1984.
The last remaining individuals of different species of Partula snail were recovered from French Polynesia and the Society has been successfully breeding these since 1986. Most species of Partula snail went extinct as a result of predation by the introduced, carnivorous rosy wolf snail. However through the combined efforts of a number of zoos, we have successfully managed to bring the numbers up for these species, which has allowed us to start re-introducing them back to their native habitat in Tahiti. The Partula Global Species Management Programme is coordinated by ZSL London Zoo and combines the breeding programme for 17 species in 16 different zoos around the world with conservation work in the Polynesian islands. RZSS Edinburgh Zoo was given the very last captive individual of the Partula taeniata simulans variety, which the Zoo then bred back to a safe level of several hundred, as luckily that individual had been fertilised and produced viable young.
And in recent news headlines regarding the Scottish Beaver Trial, RZSS along with more than 20 other Scottish environmental NGOs, has written to Dr Aileen McLeod, Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, calling for the Eurasian beaver to be fully reintroduced and recognised by the Scottish Government as a resident, native species in Scotland. This comes ahead of the Scottish Government’s decision about the future of reintroduced beavers in Scotland. The group of NGOs, who combined represent over a quarter million members, concur that a positive outcome for beavers will help ensure that Scotland continues to position itself at the forefront of biodiversity conservation in an international context. The collective see beavers as a missing element in Scottish biodiversity, believing there is both an ecological and moral imperative to restore this keystone species to benefit Scotland’s depleted freshwater ecosystems, as the reasons for their loss are no longer present.
I have mentioned in my previous blog at the beginning of June that we are also currently involved in a ground-breaking pine hoverfly conservation project. This is the rarest species of hoverfly in Britain and listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List. We are busy breeding a captive population with the hope of releasing them into artificially created tree holes in the woods in Speyside. In an update, the RZSS pine hoverfly larvae are doing very well and there is plenty of evidence of increased growth.
Finally, our resident veterinary surgeons Dr Simon Girling and Dr Romain Pizzi and RZSS Conservations Projects Manager, Roisin Campbell-Palmer, had a paper published this week titled Haematology and serum biochemistry parameters and variations in the Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber). The article is available to read in Plos One.
“The conservationist’s most important task, if we are to save the earth, is to educate.”
– Peter Scott, founder chairman of the World Wildlife Federation