Definition: Ex-Situ means literally, "off-site conservation“ the process of protecting an endangered species of plant or animal outside of its natural habitat; for example, by removing part of the population from a threatened habitat and placing it in a new location, which may be a wild area or within the care of humans.
Purpose Rescue threatened species of plants or animals. Produce material for conservation biology research. Supply material for various purposes to remove or reduce pressure from wild collecting. Make available material for conservation education and display. Produce material for reintroduction, reinforcement, habitat restoration and management.
Methods of Ex-Situ ConservationZoo One of the most conventional methods of ex-situ conservation. Generally they are used for public enjoyment and education But since there are fewer animals in the wild, they also have the additional capabilities for building up numbers through captive breeding programs.
Methods-cont’dAquariaInitially their role has largely been for display and educational purposesBut due to growing threats of aquatic species they are now used for ex-situ breeding programs.
Methods- cont’dPlant Collections Plants are much easier to maintain artificially than animals. They need less care and their requirements for habitat conditions can be provided more readily. It is also much easier to breed plants in captivity. Examples of these are botanical gardens and seed banks or germplasm banks.
Drawbacks of Ex-Situ Conservation This is rarely enough to save a species from extinction and would have to be used as a last resort or as a supplement for in- situ conservation because it cannot recreate the habitat as a whole. The species’ natural evolution and adaptation processes are either halted temporarily or altered by introducing the specimen in an unnatural habitat.
Drawbacks- cont’d Ex-situ conservation techniques are often costly and sometimes slowly drain the financial resources of the government or the organization. Pests or diseases foreign to the species may cripple protected plants and/or animals as they have no natural defense against it.
Drawbacks- cont’dReintroducing the species to the wild may cause the following problems: Behavior: captive-bred species lack the in-situ learning of their wild relatives and can be a disadvantage to the species once they had been released into the wild. Genetic Races: reintroduced populations may have an entirely different genetic make up to the original population. Habitat: it must be present for reintroduction to take place. In cases of destroyed habitats, those areas had to be restored first to allow the captive populations to be reintroduced.
But despite of these drawbacks, ex-situ conservation had been successful on some levels. An example is the head-starting of the Philippine crocodile in San Mariano, Isabela.
Philippine CrocodileAssessment Information (IUCN) Red List Category and Criteria: Critically Endangered Year Assessed: 1996Geographic Range: Countries: Native: Philippines Habitat and Ecology: Terrestrial nest sites and basking areas Systems: Terrestrial, freshwater
Philippine Crocodile Distribution: islands of Busuanga, Jolo, Luzon, Masbate, Mindanao, Mindoro, Negros, Samar are part of the historical range, but the current distribution is largely unverified - reported to be extirpated from Jolo, Luzon, Masbate and Samar.
Philippine Crocodile Diet: Mainly aquatic invertebrates and small vertebrates. Breeding: This species constructs a relatively small (around 1.5 m wide x 0.5 m tall) mound nest, into which the female deposits between 7 and 20 eggs. Incubation time is approximately 85 days. The female exhibits parental care.
Mabuwaya Foundation contraction of the Filipino words Mabuhay, welcome or long live, and Buwaya, crocodile. The Mabuwaya foundation is an NGO in the Philippines, that is concerned with the conservation of the Philippine crocodile. Currently, its efforts concentrate on educating the people of Luzon where the animal is still found in the wild. Mabuwaya teaches that the crocodile is something to be proud of, and how unsustainable fishing methods threaten both the animal and its environment.
Mabuwaya Foundation This is an organization consisting of Dutch and Philippine conservationists devoted to the protection of the Philippine crocodile. Director: Merlijn Van Weerd Established: 2003 Other institutions involved: Isabela State University and Leiden University in the Netherlands
Head-Starting A type of conservation approach in which young animals are collected from the wild and raised in captivity for a certain period of time to a larger sized in an attempt to increase survival rates before they would be released into the wild.
Activities Involved Nest Protection:a. Searching crocodile nests- In 2007 two nests were located by farmers in Disulap River and Dinang Creek.- But the nest in Dinang Creek was destroyed while the one in Disulap was being guarded by Bantay Sanktuwaryo (local protection unit).- A third nest was found in August in Dinang Creek and when the research team had gotten there it was already hatching.
b. Guarding crocodile nests- Arrangements were made with Bantay Sanktuwaryo to guard the nest in Disulap 24hrs/day.- 2 members guard the nest and earn P250/day/person.- The guardians camp at a distance (approximately 50m) and prevent people from coming too close to the nest.- Unfortunately, the nest was destroyed by a monitor lizard and rats.
c. Rewarding communities for successful hatched crocodile nests- 12 crocodiles hatched in Dinang Creek in barangay Cadsalan and the Mabuwaya Foundation gave P6,000 to the barangay fund and P500 to the boy who discovered the nest).- A hatching reward scheme was made wherein the community receives P500/per hatchling. Successful hatching would be verified by the team.- The reward money goes to the community development fund and is used for development activities such as assistance to school children and construction of a rice and corn drying pavement.
Head-Start Program Secure permits from DENR- Had submitted an application for a gratuitous permit for a head-start facilities in PAWS (Protected Area Wildlife Service of DENR). This is a requirement under the Wildlife Act (RA 9147).- This would be submitted to PAWB and had requested to the members of the Philippine crocodile recovery team to comment on the proposal, which would be resubmitted to them.- PAWB endorsed the proposal and had requested PAWS in Region 2 to issue the permit.
Collect hatchling- 12 hatchlings were collected in Dinang Creek on July 2007. Establish infrastructure- A building was made with the permission of the chairman of the committee on environment and also using the same chairman’s land to build the facility.
Feeding and maintenance- International crocodile experts were consulted to assure crocodiles were taken cared of in their rearing station.- Arrangements were made to the owner of the largest poultry farm in the area to provide structural meat supply to the crocodiles.- Fish and meat is purchased on the market to feed the crocodiles every other day.
- A caretaker was assigned and trained to feed thecrocodiles, clean the drums and provide informationto visitors.
Information Dissemination- A Philippine crocodile recovery team meeting was held on August 2, 2007 to update all stakeholders on the head-start program and other conservation activities for the Philippine crocodile.- There was also wide media coverage when the facility was opened on August 28, 2007 from ABS-CBN and GMA 7 and also articles were written about it in newspapers like Philippine Daily Inquirer and Philippine Star.- It was also covered by a local radio station, Bombo Radyo.
Results The head-start program was a success despite of the setbacks that had occurred and it had also helped increase the survival rate of the crocodiles. On July 31, 2009 there were 50 crocodiles that were released to the wild in Dicatian Lake, Banrangay Dicatian in the Municipality of Divilacan, Isabela. Ten of the crocodiles have been fitted with radio transmitters and their movements and adaptation would be monitored by the Mabuwaya Foundation and DENR to gather more information as a basis of reintroducing the crocodiles in other locations.