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I have selected this category because I do think it is an issue within the hobby.

Let me explain: as resources at zoos are stretched, I think it is time for suitably experienced private keepers to take over the mantel of conserving some of the smaller reptile and amphibian species.

Some of you may know I have had some considerable success with my Egyptian Tortoises: Testudo kleinmanni this year so much so that I actually have more animals in my vivaria than all the UK zoos combined. I am keen to swap some of the babies with other breeders (only 2-3 in the UK) or zoological collections to maintain the diversity of my group. Problem is all animals in private collections (mine included) are considered mutts as their origin is unknown.

Something else I had been more than willing to do is donate a number (50-80%) of the babies to reintroduction programmes but a) given the status mentioned above b) the million and one hoops that would need to be jumped through as release isn't an easy or straight forward process and c) the fact there isn't such a programme at present make this almost impossible.

So my question is, why bother breeding rare or endangered species when the only option is to fill a commercial demand when what I would rather be doing is making a positive impact to the long-term survival of the species?
 
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So my question is, why bother breeding rare or endangered species when the only option is to fill a commercial demand when what I would rather be doing is making a positive impact to the long-term survival of the species?
But by breeding and raising a rare or endangered species you are doing something positive. You are keeping that species in existence. Does it matter that its in a private collection rather than a back room of a zoo.

There must be reasons why releasing a colony of XYZ back into the wild requires a lot of paperwork, and may be only an option to a zoo or some other professional institute, but I have no knowledge of what those requirements would be, and in all honesty your historic records of where the animals came from, and their life with you would be fully documented, possibly more so than that of a zoo. But it does seem the red tape could be preventing the process of re-establishing endangered species back in the wild...
 

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Habitat destruction is surely a key factor in any reintroduction process. Sadly unless we check (limit) the increase of the human population, the environment which is essential for the well-being of nature shall be in decline until it is all gone!
First priority is saving the wilderness & not destroying it.
Second priority making sure that nature can migrate from one location to another unhindered.
Third priority is to educate the human populous about how to coexist with the natural surroundings for the benefit of all living creatures.
Then in a perfect world it might be possible to release privately produced animals. Although as you stated there are many many hoops of legislation to jump & paperwork bridges to cross before this is accepted by the governing bodies.
For individuals to perform all of these steps appears to me to be not affordable. It will take government mandate to promote & protect the environment. A shift in society is required where we're all content to coexist with our endemic flora & fauna rather than do our utmost to dominate other creatures or perceive them as threatening. I think some cultures have a closer connection & therefore understanding of the natural world.
Darwin had the notion of natural selection, which continues to this day, however it now does so because of the effects of humans. Your Egyptian tortoises will continue to thrive so long as you can find them suitable long term homes & source other bloodlines to keep the gene pool creditable. If they become extinct in Egypt, after some time & generations of captive bred animals they could be regarded to as Testudo kleinmanni Eng or T k Sco, T k De due to the distance of heritage from the source animals & to designate where or which bloodlines are available after extinction. Eventually genepool will weaken & the natural selection of a species ends or sub-species are created due to the fragmented groups & possibly distinctions appearing between the bloodlines. Unless we limit the human population to afford nature time & space to achieve a balance that it can live with. Every species is different & some will be more difficult to understand than others. People spend a lot on bug spray, but those bugs sustain other creatures which in turn benefit larger animals & so on.
Less people = More nature
How many children do you have?
How many children do they have?
Therefore consider, are you supporting the reconstruction or adding to the destruction of your piece of the locality where you live?
For the time being just enjoy breeding a species which few humans will have heard of & less will have had opportunity to observe in captivity. Educate those who chose to take on the responsibility of care to one of your offspring & hope that this in turn helps shift the way our society choses to conduct itself in relation to the planet we co-inhabit.
(In My Opinion)
 

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In Germany they have the citizen conservation initiative where private keepers are allowed to keep rare species that were destined for zoos. As I understand the zoos loan the animals out so the individual never owns them.
To me this makes a lot of sense with smaller species such as reptiles,amphibians, fish and invertebrates. Private individuals could really help.But of course you have to trust the people that they are loaned to and that the young will not end up on the black market.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I am a huge advocate for private keepers helping in this respect - I have participated in such programmes in the past with the Jamaican Boa and Standings Day Gecko via Jersey Zoo but I am now 'going it alone' with the Egyptian Tortoises.

I do feel our European colleagues are ahead of us in terms of this co-operation.
 
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Habitat destruction is surely a key factor in any reintroduction process. Sadly unless we check (limit) the increase of the human population, the environment which is essential for the well-being of nature shall be in decline until it is all gone!
First priority is saving the wilderness & not destroying it.
Second priority making sure that nature can migrate from one location to another unhindered.
Third priority is to educate the human populous about how to coexist with the natural surroundings for the benefit of all living creatures.
Then in a perfect world it might be possible to release privately produced animals. Although as you stated there are many many hoops of legislation to jump & paperwork bridges to cross before this is accepted by the governing bodies.
For individuals to perform all of these steps appears to me to be not affordable. It will take government mandate to promote & protect the environment. A shift in society is required where we're all content to coexist with our endemic flora & fauna rather than do our utmost to dominate other creatures or perceive them as threatening. I think some cultures have a closer connection & therefore understanding of the natural world.
Darwin had the notion of natural selection, which continues to this day, however it now does so because of the effects of humans. Your Egyptian tortoises will continue to thrive so long as you can find them suitable long term homes & source other bloodlines to keep the gene pool creditable. If they become extinct in Egypt, after some time & generations of captive bred animals they could be regarded to as Testudo kleinmanni Eng or T k Sco, T k De due to the distance of heritage from the source animals & to designate where or which bloodlines are available after extinction. Eventually genepool will weaken & the natural selection of a species ends or sub-species are created due to the fragmented groups & possibly distinctions appearing between the bloodlines. Unless we limit the human population to afford nature time & space to achieve a balance that it can live with. Every species is different & some will be more difficult to understand than others. People spend a lot on bug spray, but those bugs sustain other creatures which in turn benefit larger animals & so on.
Less people = More nature
How many children do you have?
How many children do they have?
Therefore consider, are you supporting the reconstruction or adding to the destruction of your piece of the locality where you live?
For the time being just enjoy breeding a species which few humans will have heard of & less will have had opportunity to observe in captivity. Educate those who chose to take on the responsibility of care to one of your offspring & hope that this in turn helps shift the way our society choses to conduct itself in relation to the planet we co-inhabit.
(In My Opinion)
What we need is an annual 2 month lockdown to assist nature recover.
Worked a treat last year.
( Apologies to those that suffered because of lockdowns.)
 

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I am a carer, so worked throughout without furlough or lock down. Sadly it was blatantly evident in my area that even though nature took a step forward during these periods, it was unable.to cope.with the increased human activity post those events. I saw many animals dead on the roads & I'm sure pest control had a field day when they went back into action. Any benefits will soon be mitigated by the continued activities of the dominant & most beligerant species (us).
Less humans = More nature
 

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I have obviously been following your journey for some time Fraser, and love what you are doing with this species. The fact that you have more than all UK zoos put together must show that you are doing something right, perhaps better than the zoos are.

Off the back of this, I decided to look up BIAZA's Animal Transfer Process, and it seems it is possible to use Private Breeders, such as yourself. But there seem to be 4 main questions to cover, for the Zoos to meet the process.

Do you have evidence of the Provenance of the Animals?
Can you, where practicably possible, demonstrate that by receiving this animal you are not contributing the continuation of poor welfare for other animals?
Can you, where practicably possible, demonstrate that by receiving this animal you are not contributing to the unsustainable removal of animals from the wild?
Can you, where practicably possible, demonstrate that by accepting this animal you are not supporting ethically challenging industries as defined in the BIAZA ATP?

(I assume you are already aware of these, but thought I'd post them for the purpose of the thread).

I'm guessing your main stumbling blocks are the Provenance? Do you have any trail of where the animals came from originally, how many years/generations they are descended from wild stock.

I think it would be really beneficial for zoos to look to quality private breeders to manage many species conservational needs. Zoos are a finite resource, each acquisition must be costed and they are ultimately at the hands of upper management and budget holders, who may not see a benefit to holding certain species that still need help.

Of course, that should be managed properly, as not everyone is suitable for this kind of work. In fact, I'd probably say most people aren't. Have you tried to reach out to any of the Reptile Community sympathetic zoos to see if they're willing to get the ball rolling? Once one starts, you have an 'in' and could approach others with the evidence of previous collaboration. Maybe you could speak to the AHH/BHS and get another speaker spot, talk about your successes and how you'd like to see greater collaboration between zoos and private keepers. You may find someone is sat there watching who is interested.

Apologies if all that is a rambling mess, I'd just hate to see your hard work (or at least the tortoises) go to waste.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks Tarron.

I have not been asked to do a talk but will hopefully 'network' over the two day event to see if I can make some beneficial contacts.

I too am a firm believer that suitably experienced private individuals should be given the opportunity to help conserve some of the smaller reptile and amphibian species - just as I done with the Jamaican Boa and Standings Day Geckos all those years ago. It certainly helped me feel as though I was doing my bit and helped shape the keeper I am today.
 
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