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Bustard reintroduction threat to Russian population

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Old Friday 25th November 2005, 09:13   #1
desgreene
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Bustard reintroduction threat to Russian population

I picked up on this story from another forum and thought it would be of interest here:-

http://www.arts.telegraph.co.uk/news...14/ixhome.html

My own thought is that no reintroduction scheme can be allowed to adversely affect one of the few remaining viable populations existing.

Des.
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Old Friday 25th November 2005, 11:59   #2
Tim Hall
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Lee Evans has started something similar on Surfbirds Forum....Sorry don't seem to be able to attach link.
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Old Friday 25th November 2005, 12:14   #3
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Hi Tim,
the link seems to work for me. (edit: sorry Tim I misunderstood. You were trying to attach a link to Lee Evans' Surfbirds thread).

It was a post by Lee Evans on WestPalBirds which brought my attention to it.

If you go to :-
http://www.arts.telegraph.co.uk/news/
and search for "bustard" you should get the article.

Last edited by desgreene : Friday 25th November 2005 at 12:17.
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Old Friday 25th November 2005, 13:24   #4
ed keeble
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I had previously read (and accepted at face value) that eggs in vulnerable locations were collected and hatched anyway as part of local Saratov conservation measures- so the Salisbury Plain operation was simply being allocated a portion of what would have been collected anyway.

So if the Telegraph article is true, that's rather worrying.

One for further investigation, rather than a rush to judgment.
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Old Friday 25th November 2005, 13:41   #5
DJW
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Hall
Lee Evans has started something similar on Surfbirds Forum....Sorry don't seem to be able to attach link.
I doubt if you can attach a link because you need to subscribe to the Surfbirds Forum.

Lee summarised the findings of Alexander Antonchikov, the chairman of the Saratov branch of the Russian Bird Conservation Union, who recently confirmed that the attempt to re-establish the Great Bustard on Salisbury Plain is having a seriously detrimental effect on the dwindling natural population on the Russian steppes.

The findings are described in the Telegraph article (see link in first post) and I agree with Lee and others that the value of this project (the reintroduction of Gt Bustards in the UK) is not good news if it is going to be detrimental to the fragile wild population in Russia.

Lee also makes the point that the Russians are not that good at egg identification and are collecting eggs from other bird species.

Regards

Dave
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Old Friday 25th November 2005, 13:55   #6
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There certainly seems to be a requirement for better monitoring of egg collection, but you would think that should have been a condition of the original license.

Broadly, I'm in agreement with the reintroduction, but not at any cost.

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Old Friday 25th November 2005, 14:15   #7
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There is a flip side to this ...bird protection is not so advanced on those plains and the best of times and undoubtedly many Great Bustards would indeed be lost to agriculture. Establishing a population on Salisbury Plain would seem to be a sensible move ...if the Russian population goes into nosedive, a population (which would be better protected) could become important.

This said, it is clearly very important to collect eggs in a controlled, monitored and sensible manner ...not only the birds for the ultimate survival of the bird populations, but for the overall success of the UK project (as I guess negative publicity is not going to do it any good).
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Old Friday 25th November 2005, 15:34   #8
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Anyone know if there's a problem captive breeding Great Bustards (obviously not from the birds at Salisbury, which I pressume are too young)? Problems with imprinting will have to be overcome whether the eggs are taken from wild birds or captive ones. Captive breeding projects seem to fail because of high mortality from predation among newly released birds - which in the case of Bustards would mean almost exclusively foxes. I understand some fox control was undertaken before the original birds were released, perhaps a more rigorous campaign needs to be carried out? Once breeding Bustards were established then the need for an excessive cull of foxes might diminish, though I fear the England of today holds very many more foxes than it did the last time Great Bustards walked the Plain . . .

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Old Friday 25th November 2005, 15:45   #9
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I may be wrong, but I think an earlier reintroduction scheme from captive bred birds failed. It may have been due to some of the reasons you mention.

The Great Bustard web-site says that this year they have gone to greater lengths to imprint fear of predators into the birds before they are released.

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Old Friday 25th November 2005, 15:53   #10
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I just found the following on another web-site as the reason captive breeding failed :-
"A captive breeding programme at Porton Down in the 1970s failed because male and female Bustards would not breed. The last survivor of the group of birds brought in from Spain died at Whipsnade Zoo in 1988".

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Old Friday 25th November 2005, 16:14   #11
ed keeble
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saluki
I understand some fox control was undertaken before the original birds were released, perhaps a more rigorous campaign needs to be carried out? Once breeding Bustards were established then the need for an excessive cull of foxes might diminish, though I fear the England of today holds very many more foxes than it did the last time Great Bustards walked the Plain . . .

saluki
From their website and previous threads here, they have maintained pretty vigorous fox control efforts post-release, espcially lamping in the wider general area. Fence collisions have been the other problem.

I've been guardedly in favour of this effort, so long as it continues to be properly funded and generally done right- but I think I have read that their funding is under threat (or had gone) which if true makes me much more iffy about it.
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Old Wednesday 14th December 2005, 17:54   #12
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Hiya all,

Struggling to keep up with Bustard events due to work being majorly busy but I just picked up on this post and thought I better reply to help people get a perspective on this.

The issue of whether the reintroduction of birds onto the Plains will affect the current population in Russia is specifically mentioned in the licence for the project.

The main person who seems to be now raising this as an issue is Patrick Osbourne. Now as far as I know Patrick has been in very close contact with the project (as an advisor) and has been present at both the egg collections and raising centres in Russia. There has been no mention of any problems with the collection methods prior to about 2 months ago.

Now I am not privey to all the inner workings of the Great Bustard Group (I just run the website) but I feel that the working relationship between the Group and Patrick Osbourne has degraded recently, and it is since that time that Patrick has made these claims. Personally I think this is unfair and of him and seems to me to be his way of getting his own back. It is also contradicts his own published work where he states the Russian Population is either stable or increasing.

As I said I do not have any info to back this up but it is my personal interpretation of the facts.

I do not believe Dave Waters (head bloke in the Great bustard group) would be running this reintroduction if he believed that it was having a negative effect on the Russian Population.

To assist in this the group is seeking an independant monitor for next years collections.

I do have a statement from Dave about this, but need to contact him as to whether he wishes me to put it on the website.

Thanks

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Old Wednesday 14th December 2005, 19:23   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saluki
Anyone know if there's a problem captive breeding Great Bustards (obviously not from the birds at Salisbury, which I pressume are too young)?
I think they basically very rarely lay eggs in captivity.
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Old Wednesday 14th December 2005, 19:40   #14
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Well, sounds that the problem is talking with local farmers and having an eye on them.

I however doubt that this would be a visible loss to bustards in Saratov. Population is stable or increasing, comparatively few eggs are taken, most would be destroyed by tractors anyway, brood losses are naturally big.
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