Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 220529928
Urgent conservation issue for the Albanian Saddle Bush-cricket (Uromenus dyrrhachiacus)
This project will cover only the urgent actions to save the species. When completed, we will have a better vision of the situation and threats and how to mitigate these threats with identified stakeholders, and we will ask for a next step project after.
Urgent actions are:
1- Get an accurate status of remaining populations in its restricted distribution area.
2 - Start an ex-situ breeding to save the species from extinction because habitat destruction are currently running fast in this area and we must have enough individuals to repopulate habitat when recovered.
3 - Find motivated local actors from environmental NGO of Durres and train them to find the species, the layed eggs and to be able to displace individuals/eggs in case of urgency. They will have to find and contact the appropriate stakeholders to avoid or mitigate the threats.
We started field studies mid June 2023 with intensive research during 8 days, followed in July by complementary studies on targeted spots.
Our results are (see detailed results in attached documents):
- The main population is located on both sides of the chain of hills located north of Durres. The distribution area is small but the species can be locally abundant in some spots. The threat is the destruction of the hills (soil collected and displaced by a noria of trucks) currently in the northern part, near the new port, and in the southern part, near the town.
- The population of Portez, in the north of the new port is isolated and could diseapear (work also on the ground of this area) if it is absent of the military area (not yet checked).
- One population in the south of Durres still exist but in a very restricted area. This population is at risk due to the urbanisation of the area.
The ex-situ breeding has been started and the outdoor cage populated with a number of couple adults in accordance with the density observed in-situ. The 10th of July, the first matings occured in the breeding outdoor cage (see photo of a female with a spermatophore, taken the 11 July 2023).The 14 and 15 July we went again on the most important locality of Albanian Saddle bush-cricket to measure the status of the population. Due to the drier conditions, the reproduction process is faster and shorter, and at that date about half of the population was still alive in-situ.In the breeding cage, thanks to better conditions (watering on a regular basis), the insects are alive for most of them end of July, after the exceptionnal heat wave of the second half of July. Before the end of August, all individuals in the outdoor cage were dead. We noted the presence of holes in some stems, indicating that eggs have been laid. We should wait at least 2 years to observe the first hatchings. No conservation plan can be implemented if no well-informed and if possible well trained local people are involved. The main threat to this species is that its existence and its status are generally unknown to people who works in its habitat. The challenge is to find, address and convince the right people to consider and implement a conservation plan.
To address this issue, we have trained young scientists in-situ and we have prepared a short video film for the stakeholders:
Beyond the direct stakeholders, the video film has been widely shared with different structures (Agency, Institutes, Organizations, etc.) The next years will depend on the feedback from stakeholders. If some of them have understood the importance of conservation actions for this species and are willing to participate in meetings to build, with all partners, a conservation plan, we will ask for project grant for the next years.