Conservation: Rescuing/Rehabilitating Wildlife

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Conservation: Rescuing/Rehabilitating Wildlife

Post  The Herp Father on Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:15 pm

So I was watching the most recent episode of Python Hunters on NatGeo Wild and they were with Bob Irwin who is of course the father of Steve Irwin. Regardless of that there was a portion where a sea turtle was rescued and then rehabilitated and released. Something occurred to me, when we as humans intervene on the behalf of reptiles and 'rescue' them are we doing well or are we potentially upsetting a very delicate balance?
The way I see this is you take in an injured reptile rehabilitate it then release it back into the wild. In the meantime the niche that one animal had filled has been filled either by another of its species or another reptile possibly. if an animal whether it be reptile or any other has a certain range that it has generally 'fought' for and when this animal is removed by man or injury that spot is then filled. So should we intervene because our "nurturing" instinct as mammals direct us to? I plan to write a piece on this soon and would love to discuss this here with the group and see what your thoughts are.
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Re: Conservation: Rescuing/Rehabilitating Wildlife

Post  BChambers on Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:13 pm

The impulse to save individual injured animals does us credit. But I think this is a case in which situational ethics must prevail. Of course there exist cases in which every individual in a population may be critical to its survival. A good example is the California Condor, which had dropped to less than two dozen individuals. In such a case, heroic measures are more than justified to save each and every member of the remnant population.

But in most cases-no. You can't as a general rule "save" individual animals. Death is a necessary and entirely natural part of the environment. Every organism will, eventually die-without this simple reality, Evolution itself would grind to a halt. As Conservationists, our scarce resources are best used to preserve habitats, and not individual denizens of same. With sufficient intact habitat, it is scarcely possible to wipe out a species. But take away the habitat, and nothing-no amount of "protection", no endangered species laws, nothing at all- can save it.
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Re: Conservation: Rescuing/Rehabilitating Wildlife

Post  The Herp Father on Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:36 pm

BChambers wrote:The impulse to save individual injured animals does us credit. But I think this is a case in which situational ethics must prevail. Of course there exist cases in which every individual in a population may be critical to its survival. A good example is the California Condor, which had dropped to less than two dozen individuals. In such a case, heroic measures are more than justified to save each and every member of the remnant population.

But in most cases-no. You can't as a general rule "save" individual animals. Death is a necessary and entirely natural part of the environment. Every organism will, eventually die-without this simple reality, Evolution itself would grind to a halt. As Conservationists, our scarce resources are best used to preserve habitats, and not individual denizens of same. With sufficient intact habitat, it is scarcely possible to wipe out a species. But take away the habitat, and nothing-no amount of "protection", no endangered species laws, nothing at all- can save it.

I couldn't agree more Brad. Now then this brings me to another topic which you and I believe have discussed before which is that of 'intact habitat' as you put it which is a great way to say it by the way. Now then, being that I am sure you have read David Quammen Song of the Dodo what do we do when these intact habitats become islands that the species are trapped upon so to speak? Granted we as humans think we have done a great justice for our wildlife as it were but according to Quammen we sometimes cut off our nose to spite our face. Is this something that is understood in the biological realms as it were of academia? I ask because I believe you are more well versed in the academia as it were than myself and I admittedly came late to the game of wildlife conservation and understanding the implications of mans involvement in conservation. After reading Quammen, it is very hard to support conservation efforts as a whole as they are not forthcoming with the information that is or would be would typically of interest to the public eye as it were. For someone who understands (or at least I like to think I do) the implications of saving a sect of land and setting it aside for habitat preservation without having some kind of connection to other sects of land i.e. wildlife corridors which we hope they use is there anyway to 'guarantee' the survival of the species?
Don't misunderstand, I 100% agree with the Condor analogy but is this what we've come to? Allowing a species to become so decimated that we wait until possibly the last moment to step in and do something and possibly lose a species to extinction? I know I have strayed from the original question now and I apologize, but they are interconnected on an intimate level I believe. Do we save the individual to hope that we enhance the species or would this 'dilute' the species as insofar as this particular species made a critical error and was injured because of it? I am sure this could go on and on but these are the things that keep me up at night.
Thanks again Brad, I really appreciate your insights.
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Re: Conservation: Rescuing/Rehabilitating Wildlife

Post  Admin on Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:33 pm

As hard as it sounds and believe me i would personally have a real hard time leaving an injured animal to fend for itself,They should be left for the natural order of things,and If you are going to attempt a rehab, I would then recommend keeping it out of the wild. Once removed, the chances that it will thrive would decrease.Reptiles have routines and know of places where they find food/water/shelter in relation to their location.....once they are removed from that place and established in captivity they have to re-establish in the wild by itself (which is alot harder than establishing in captivity). It would be sad for you to work hard caring for a sick animal only to die because its enviroment no longer supports it.

they live in a rough world.....but the strong shall survive.
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Re: Conservation: Rescuing/Rehabilitating Wildlife

Post  BChambers on Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:19 am

John, with 7 Billion humans and counting, yes-this is exactly what we've come to. Intact habitat in the largest chunks possible, connected by corridors to whatever extent is possible, is all we can hope for-absent a huge slowdown in population growth. sad, but that is the reality of the 21st century. And it should come as no surprise, since we've been warned constantly by environmentalists for the last 50 years!
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Re: Conservation: Rescuing/Rehabilitating Wildlife

Post  BChambers on Tue Apr 24, 2012 10:21 am

Indeed, studies have shown that the longer a collected herp is kept in captivity before release, the more remote is its chance for survival once returned to the wild-even if released in its former territory. Studies with pit vipers have shown increased mortality after only a day in captivity!
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Re: Conservation: Rescuing/Rehabilitating Wildlife

Post  Stephan9268 on Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:29 pm

Hmmm xince you mention Pit viper , i know of a project in the phillipinnes where Parias mcgregories where breed in captivity and realsed at the age of a year and most of them did survive , maybe this is all depending on individuall species but one would think especially seeing behavor of reptiles in captiviy it would be easier with those then any mammal or other animal
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