First evaluation of different captive rearing techniques for the re-establishment of the red legged partridge populations

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In Tuscany, the red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa) became extinct at the beginning of the 20th century. Recently, some attempts have been made to re-establish wild populations in Tuscany using farm reared birds, but in most cases the released populations have shown difficulties in reaching sufficient viability, even in areas where the habitat can be considered suitable. Modern technologies for rearing game-birds may be not suitable for reintroduction purposes. For this reason we carried out preliminary research to evaluate the survival of red legged partridges reared under natural condition (Natural) compared to those farm reared (Artificial). Natural rearing occurred in a large pen where birds were allowed to mate freely and to nest. Natural reared birds reached a larger size than artificially-reared birds. Partridges were released in a 7.56 sq km protected area located in the province of Leghorn (western Tuscany, Italy). We followed the fate of 22 young radio-tagged red-legged female partridges (half Natural and half Artificial) and 56 young red-legged partridges (25 Artificial and 31 Natural) marked with different coloured ponchos. The survival of Natural radio-tagged red-legged partridges was double that of the Artificial red-legged partridges. After six months, the re-sighting rate of the Natural poncho-marked birds reached 22.6% whereas none of the Artificial stock was re-sighted. The preliminary results of this research suggest that Natural rearing may be an important tool to improve the success of partridge reintroduction.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2012

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