Why reintroduce species? 

In an ideal world there would be no need for reintroductions. There would be many populations and plenty of suitable habitat for animals to colonise naturally. Sadly, this is no longer the case. There are far fewer amphibian and reptile populations than in previous decades. Furthermore, many populations are isolated, meaning that colonising unoccupied habitat is impossible. Reptiles and amphibians are generally unable to travel long distances, or even short ones if the habitat isn’t quite right. 

So, as well as improving and recreating habitats, we have to consider alternative means of ensuring that animals can populate unoccupied patches of habitat. “Reintroduction” refers to the carefully planned release of animals in order to establish a population. There are two main methods to achieve this: translocation (taking animals from one area in the wild, and releasing them in the reintroduction site), and release of captive-bred animals.

Whether a reintroduction happens via translocation of wild animals or release of captive-bred animals depends on various factors. Both methods have their pros and cons, and both require substantial effort to be done properly. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation has pioneered both techniques for UK species, with an encouraging level of success. We have re-established populations of smooth snake, sand lizard, natterjack toad and pool frog through reintroduction.

We work with government, wildlife charities, landowners, scientists and others when we undertake reintroductions. Amphibian and Reptile Conservation works to global, national and species-specific guidance, such as the IUCN’s Reintroduction Guidelines [full reference: IUCN/SSC (2013). Guidelines for Reintroductions and Other Conservation Translocations. Version 1.0. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN Species Survival Commission, viiii + 57 pp.]