Reintroductions for saving species – meet the wildlife movers

Reintroduction is the process by which species are released back into environments from where they may have been previously lost.

Reintroductions have the potential to create profound benefits for nature and people by saving species and restoring the function of ecosystems.  However, as demonstrated by recent discussions surrounding beaver and lynx reintroduction in the UK, they are complex endeavours in terms of multi-stakeholder interests, uncertainties and risk. 

Through a series of presentations from leading global experts this meeting discussed the future of reintroductions and other forms of conservation translocation.  Speakers introduced the global scope and vision of the IUCN's Reintroduction Specialist Group, the role of zoos and other captive collections in reintroduction, and outlined how those involved can work together to ensure the appropriate use of reintroduction to best achieve success in conservation.


Mark has had a long association with the theory and practice of reintroduction. This started with the 1982 release of the Arabian oryx into Oman, using captive-bred animals to replace the last indigenous population which had been hunted to extinction in 1972.  From 1988 to 2000 he was founder Chair of the IUCN SSC Reintroduction Specialist Group. After spells with the African Wildlife Leadership Foundation and as chief executive of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Mark is now at WildCRU, University of Oxford, where he led development of the 2013 Guidelines for Reintroduction and other Conservation Translocations, and more recently Guidelines for Species Conservation Planning. His interests now include contemplation of re-wilding, and the conservation world’s need to explore what it wants in a changing world.

  • Dr Sarah J Converse, US Geological Survey; Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit; School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) and School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences (SAFS), University of Washington
    Tough choices: making better decisions for greater conservation success

Sarah is a research ecologist with the US Geological Survey, the Unit Leader of the Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and an Associate Professor with a joint appointment in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences & the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington, in Seattle. Before taking this position in early 2017, Sarah spent 10 years as a scientist at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center near Washington DC. Sarah focuses on building quantitative models of populations to better understand their ecology and management. She is most interested in doing science that helps managers make better, more informed, and more transparent decisions about the conservation of threatened wildlife.

  • Dr Martin Gaywood, Scottish Natural Heritage
    People and reintroductions: the Scottish experience

Dr Martin Gaywood is based at Scottish Natural Heritage at the Inverness HQ, and leads on a number of species projects. He was manager of the ‘Species Action Framework’ project which targeted management action on 32 Scottish species, and is currently the SNH manager for the multi-partner Scottish Wildcat Action project. He has been SNH’s lead specialist on beaver reintroduction for 17 years, and was editor of the final ‘Beavers in Scotland’ report to Scottish Government in 2015. He provides the secretariat role for the National Species Reintroduction Forum, and co-authored the Scottish Code for Conservation Translocations.

Axel Moehrenschlager is the Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Reintroduction Specialist Group. He is motivated to amplify translation, policy integration, training, and application of the IUCN Guidelines for Reintroductions and Other Conservation Translocations to help more species, ecosystems, and people worldwide. He is the Director of Conservation & Science at the Calgary Zoological Society, Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Calgary (Canada), Adjunct Associate Professor at Clemson University (USA), and Research Associate at Oxford (UK).

  • Chaired by Dr John Ewen, Institute of Zoology, ZSL

John Ewen is a Senior Research Fellow at the Zoological Society of London and has a research focus on reintroduction biology and threatened species recovery. He is co-chair of New Zealand’s Hihi (Stitchbird) Recovery Group and has also been coordinating a research group working with this species since 2004. Beyond hihi John is involved in a growing number of species recovery projects including birds and mammals spanning New Zealand, Australia and Mauritius. He is particularly interested in decision making for threatened species recovery and how we make best use of science to inform these decisions. In 2016 John started working closely with the IUCN SSC Reintroduction Specialist Group to develop training in the application of their published Guidelines and he continues to promote best practice application of reintroduction and other forms of conservation translocation as powerful conservation tools.


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