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EEP - European Endangered species Programme

 

An EEP is a population management programme for a (endangered) species kept in EAZA (European Association of Zoo's and Aquaria) institutions. Each EEP has a coordinator (someone with a special interest in and a knowledge of the species concerned, who is working in an EAZA zoo. He/she is assisted by a Species Committee and a Taxon Advisory Group.

The coordinator has to collect information on the status of all the animals of the species, for which he/she is responsible, kept in EAZA zoo's and aquaria. He/she has to produce a studbook regularly and will carrying out demographical and genetical analyses and producing a plan for the future management of the species. He/she works together with, or initiates reintroduction programmes and conservation projects for the EEP species.

Together with the Species Committee, recommendations are made on which animals should breed or not and which animal should go from one zoo to another. Together they compile Management and Husbandry Guidelines

The number of EEP's existing at the end of 2002 is 142. (2 for Invertebrates; 6 for Reptiles, 35 for birds and 99 for mammals. For most of these and other species, similarly programmes are existing in other regions of the world. More then hundred other species are monitored by an ESB (European Studbook).

Crane EEP's: Red-crowned (G. japonensis), Siberian (G. leucogeranus) and White-naped (G. vipio)

Crane ESB's: Blue (A. paradisea), Hooded (G. monacha) and Western Crowned (B. pavonina)

 

Grus japonensis - Red-crowned Crane

 

The Red-crowned Crane is, after the Whooping Crane, the second rarest crane species. The total population in the wild is about 2,000 birds. They breed in large wetlands in East Asia and winter along rivers and in coastal and freshwater marshes in Japan, China and Korea Peninsula. There are two main breeding populations: a migratory population breeding in northeastern China and Russia and wintering in southern China and Korea and a resident population on the island of Hokkaido (Japan). The species is classified as Endangered in the IUCN Red List Categories.

Red-crowned Cranes prefer to nest and feed in marshes with relatively deep water, and will nest only in areas with standing dead vegetation. They are generalist feeders and prefer wetter feeding sites, but also forage along dikes and in croplands. On their wintering grounds they feed on waste (or human-provided) grain, and on aquatic plants and animals in coastal marshes and open watercourses.

Principal threats to the species are habitat loss and degradation. Breeding areas in Hokkaido, in northeastern China, and the Amur River basin in Russia are affected by agricultural and industrial development. Other threats to breeding, migration, and wintering habitat are water control, disturbance, harvesting and fires at the breeding areas.

The EEP for Red-crowned cranes was established in 1990. The population in 33 European Institutions was at that time 105 birds. Due to improved management and breeding (and some imports of captive born birds from other regions) the captive population increased with more then 200% and on 31/12/2002 the European captive population counted 230 birds in 56 EAZA and 110 birds in 25 Non-EAZA Institutions. A total of 340 birds !!! This is almost the carrying capacity for this species in EAZA Institutions and this give us the opportunity to send birds and/or eggs to Russian for reintroduction projects. (See Conservation Chapter)


 

Grus leucogeranus - Siberian Crane

 

After the Whooping and the Red-crowned Cranes, the Siberian Crane is the third rarest species of cranes. The total population was estimated to only a few hundred until 1981. That year, a Chinese biologists however discovered a wintering flock of 830-850 cranes at Poyang Lake in China. Through more adequate field surveys the total population is now estimated upward to 2900-3000 birds.

The species is classified as Endangered under the IUCN Red List Categories. The Central and Western populations are Critically Endangered.

The species is divided into three populations. The Eastern population (2900 birds) breeds in northeastern Siberia and winters along the middle Yangtze River in China. The Central population ( 2-5 birds) winters regularly at Keoladeo National Park in India. The Western population (7-11 birds), winters along the south coast of the Caspian Sea in Iran.

The Siberian Crane is the most highly specialized member of the crane family in terms of habitat requirements, morphology, vocalizations, and behavior. It is the most aquatic of the cranes, exclusively using wetlands for nesting, feeding, and roosting. It nests in bogs, marshes, and other wetland types of the lowland tundra and taiga, preferring wide expanses of shallow fresh water with good visibility. Migration and wintering habitats are more varied, but feeding and roosting sites are found only in shallow wetlands, including artificial water impoundments in India and Iran. It is most frequently observed probing in wetlands for its preferred foods; the roots, tubers, sprouts, and stems of sedges and other aquatic plants.

The EEP for this species has been established in 2001. The EEP population on 31/12/2002 was: 59 males and 57 females (116) in 10 Institutions. Our goals for the coming years are to form a strong, healthy self sustaining population with a high genetic diversity. Surplus animals and/or eggs will be used for reintroduction projects. (See Conservation Chapter)