The May 2024 issue of Oryx examines a range of topics and species in herpetofauna conservation, including human–crocodile interactions, marine and freshwater turtles, the harlequin frog and the gharial.

In the lead article, Oskyrko et al. carried out a comprehensive survey of reptile distribution in Odesa Oblast, south-west Ukraine. The new compilation of 662 records includes 14 native and four introduced reptiles, including previously unreported localities for some species. In the Editorial, Redford and Dudley propose the creation of a ‘future conservation area’ descriptor—an agreed-upon, carefully designed classification that would supplement the existing IUCN protected area management categories, in the hope of ensuring the conservation of future values of nature.

The May issue also includes a Briefly section shining a spotlight on climate change, plus a host of Conservation News items and book reviews! Find out more about the issue’s content, including our Editor’s picks, below.

Left: A very wet field team during downpours at the release site. Right: One of the released captive-bred frogs, with a radio-transmitter. Photos: Brian Gratwicke.

Left: A very wet field team at the harlequin frog release site in Panama during Klocke et al.’s fieldwork. Right: A released captive-bred harlequin frog with a radio-transmitter. Photos: Brian Gratwicke.

Herpetofauna conservation

  • Reptiles and their conservation in south-west Ukraine – Oskyrko et al. (blog post here)
  • Using local ecological knowledge to determine the status of Cantor’s giant softshell turtle Pelochelys cantorii in Kerala, India – Jain et al.
  • Two decades of community-based conservation yield valuable insights into marine turtle nesting ecology – van de Geer et al.
  • Release trial of captive-bred variable harlequin frogs Atelopus varius shows that frogs disperse rapidly, are difficult to recapture and do not readily regain skin toxicity – Klocke et al. (blog post here)
  • Status of the Critically Endangered gharial Gavialis gangeticus in the upper Ghaghara River, India, and its conservation in the Girwa–Ghaghara Rivers – Vashistha et al.
  • Nesting of the Critically Endangered gharial Gavialis gangeticus in Bardia National Park, Nepal – Bashyal et al.
  • Human–crocodile interactions in the western Solomon Islands: the importance of local data for reducing attacks on people – Aswani & Matanzima (blog post here)
  • Wildlife conservation through traditional values: alarming numbers of crocodile attacks reported from Timor-Leste – Brackhane et al.
Author Shankar Aswani training Indigenous research assistants who worked in the project in the Roviana Lagoon. Photo: Shankar Aswani.

Aswani & Matanzima investigated human–crocodile interactions in the Roviana Lagoon, Solomon Islands. Their results differed from those of a national survey, emphasizing the importance of working with local communities to obtain site-specific data. Here, Shankar Aswani is training Indigenous research assistants who worked on their project. Photo: Shankar Aswani.

Behind the cover

Baseline distribution data are essential for decision-making in conservation under future climate change scenarios and in the face of other threats. The reptiles of Odesa Oblast in south-west Ukraine are threatened by military action, alteration and degradation of habitats, uncontrolled pressure from infrastructure projects and invasive species. However, there are fewer species distribution data available for Ukraine compared to other European countries, and much of the research on the reptiles of Odesa Oblast dates from the Soviet era. A new compilation of 662 records of the 14 native reptile species known from Odesa Oblast includes previously unreported localities for some species such as the grass snake Natrix natrix (pictured). However, fieldwork did not confirm the occurrence of five of the 14 known species. Species richness is highest in the protected areas along the Black Sea. For more information, see Oskyrko et al.

A grass snake Natrix natrix, one of 14 native species recorded in Oskyrko et al.'s survey of reptiles in Ukraine. Photo:

A grass snake Natrix natrix, one of 14 native species recorded in Oskyrko et al.’s survey of reptiles in Ukraine. Photo: Sylvain Cordier/NaturePL.com.

Editorial

Areas of hope: ensuring the conservation of future values of nature Redford & Dudley

It is well known that changes are and will continue to be brought about by climate change, that impact species and ecosystems worldwide. Conservation practice needs to rise to the challenge of including not only existing biodiversity values but future ones as well, including transient values as species gradually move their range. Redford and Dudley propose the creation of a ‘future conservation area’ descriptor—an agreed-upon, carefully designed classification that would supplement the existing IUCN protected area management categories and governance types for protected areas. Such a future conservation area designation would need to be employed strategically, for the most relevant species and ecosystems. Apex predators, generalist feeders and colonist plants, for instance, will often look after themselves in a changing climate, whereas specialized, range-limited species will need help.

‘We believe that active and systematic identification of future conservation areas should be an important part of efforts to conserve existing species and ecosystems, and to reverse biodiversity losses.’

Editor’s picks

  1. Reptiles and their conservation in south-west Ukraine – Oskyrko et al.
  2. Release trial of captive-bred variable harlequin frogs Atelopus varius shows that frogs disperse rapidly, are difficult to recapture and do not readily regain skin toxicity – Klocke et al.
  3. Searching for spots: a comprehensive survey for the Arabian leopard Panthera pardus nimr in Saudi Arabia – Dunford et al.
  4. Threatened or poorly known? The case of the Mediterranean narrow endemic Valeriana amazonum in Sardinia – Fenu et al.
One of the hundreds of camera traps deployed during Dunford et al.'s search for the Arabian leopard in Saudi Arabia.

One of the hundreds of camera traps deployed during Dunford et al.’s search for the Arabian leopard in Saudi Arabia. Photo: Carolyn Dunford/Panthera.

Other content

  • The road to recovery: conservation management for the Critically Endangered Bali myna shows signs of success – Squires et al.
  • Challenges and possible conservation implications of recolonizing dholes Cuon alpinus in Nepal – Ghimirey et al.
  • Analysis of a 131-year longitudinal dataset of the Eurasian otter Lutra lutra in Hong Kong: implications for conservation – Hui & Chan (blog post here)
  • Genetic insights to assist management of the Critically Endangered hangul Cervus hanglu hanglu in the Kashmir Himalaya – Narayan et al.
A mother otter with two cubs, captured by a camera trap in the 380-ha Mai Po Nature Reserve, which is the only site with confirmed breeding otters in Hong Kong. Photo: WWF-Hong Kong & Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden.

A mother otter with two cubs, captured by a camera trap during Hui & Chan’s study in the 380-ha Mai Po Nature Reserve, which is the only site with confirmed breeding otters in Hong Kong. Photo: WWF-Hong Kong & Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden.

Conservation news

  • Opportunity: assess programme impact by testing an adaptation of the IUCN Green Status of Species – Young et al.
  • Online publications for responsible primate-watching for tourists and for tourism professionals – Waters & Hansen
  • IUCN Species Survival Commission Aquatic Fungi Specialist Group – Fernandes et al.
  • Launching of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Spain Species Specialist Group – Cano-Alonson et al.
  • The Salto Morato Manifest for Conservation Translocations – Fernandez et al.
  • White stork conservation: first use of nest platforms on power poles in Iran – Kolnegari et al.
  • Reasons for hope: an ecological corridor for the northern muriqui – Kaizer et al.
  • Signs of population recovery of the buffy-headed marmoset Callithrix flavicepsPossamai et al.
  • First plant conservation translocation in Armenia: restoring globally threatened wild pear populations – Asatryan
  • Seeds of collaboration for the Indian Botanical Gardens Network – Dhyani et al.
  • Rewilding of black softshell turtles in Brahmaputra – Singh et al.
  • Rediscovery of the Critically Endangered Plantago fengdouensis in Sichuan, China – Gao & Chen
  • Alliance of protected areas for better landscape conservation outcomes in northern Saudi Arabia – Lee et al.
  • Policy document for bird conservation in the urban landscape of the National Capital Region, India – Mylswamy et al.
Left: nest platform installation. Right: white storks perching on the nest platforms. Photos: Mahmood Kolnegari.

Left: Kolnegari et al. collaborated with local communities and electricity utilities to install bird-friendly nest platforms on electricity pylons in Iran. Right: White storks perching on the new nest platforms. Photos: Mahmood Kolnegari.

Book reviews



Emma joined the Oryx team in 2022 after completing an MSc in wildlife conservation. She is particularly interested in African wildlife and the wildlife trade, and carried out her MSc research on the impact of wild meat hunting on duiker populations in Central Africa. Prior to her MSc, Emma worked in finance before volunteering at conservation organizations and training as a field guide in South Africa.