1st International Workshop on Rehabilitation and Reintroduction of Carnivores
From 25 till 27 of November 2015 the First International workshop on rehabilitation and reintroduction of large carnivores was held in the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and evolution of Russian academy of sciences (Moscow). The discussion of ways to prepare animals raised in captivity for life in the wild and rehabilitate them became the main topic on the agenda of the International Workshop. In Russia, there are several facilities that have been built for work with the Siberian tiger and Persian leopard, with various techniques for animal training being developed at the moment. As a result of several effective methods for rehabilitation and reintroduction being worked out in Russia specifically, for the first time ever six orphaned tiger cubs were successfully prepared, trained, and released into the wild. The project has had great public resonance. The International Workshop amalgamated the experience and experts of the world’s major projects on the rehabilitation and reintroduction of large carnivores and serve as a great event to discuss the latest actual techniques and spread the information obtained in course of the successful implementation of the Russian programs. Alongside Russia’s representatives, the working meeting had been attended by specialists from Spain, Switzerland, South Africa, France, Germany, the UK, Portugal, India, USA, China, and Georgia. There were two main languages used during the meeting: Russian and English. All reports were accompanied by simultaneous translation, and the monograph with published materials contains both English and Russian versions of all theses. The professional translators provided by UNDP GEF as support for the Workshop have largely determined the success of the event. During the three days of the conference, 5 sections worked: 1) presentation of existing projects, 2) general issues of reintroduction; 3) general issues of rehabilitation: the choice of animals for reintroduction, features of their biology, content, behavior, assessment of the readiness of animals for life in the wild; 4) reintroduction: site selection and assessment, monitoring of released animals, assessment of the success of reintroduction; 5) issues of relations with state organizations, animal breeding programs and environmental funds, tasks on Reintroduction Programs management. In total, the Workshop was attended by about 100 colleagues from different countries and organizations who are professionally close to the topic of restoring natural populations of large predators.
Reintroduction into the wild is one of the primary techniques for restoring rare species populations. Captive breeding helps create a stable and favorable environment for propagation of animals and restore the population of species that are under threat. Poaching is known to cause irreparable damage to rare species. Cubs whose mothers were killed by poachers, and orphans saved by people, are placed in rehabilitation centers and have a chance of survival only if they are kept most caringly in captivity. However, animals raised in captivity are not accustomed to living in the wild and, therefore, may need special training. Creating special conditions for raising “wild” animals is a complicated task that requires a specific environment and management methods. For animals to be able to survive in the wild, you need to develop in them their natural, wild, behavior by using special methods designed to provide them with the skills necessary to sustain themselves in the wild. With carnivores, besides the challenging task of getting the prey, even more challenging for the animal is to be able to find it and catch it. Of no less importance is the ability to understand other animals and try to find some “common ground” with them. How do we make sure the predator does not approach people and attack them or their livestock? How can we teach the animals to behave like those in the wild? How do we assess their abilities and skills? The more intellectually developed the species at issue are, the more intricate their behavior and the greater the amount of skills needed to secure their own spot in the wild must be to helped it secure its place in the wild.