Expert seminar: discussions about the protection of amphibians and reptiles

On December 14, at the Riga Zoo, the LIFE FOR SPECIES project organized a seminar for nature experts dedicated to the conservation of amphibian and reptile species.

Šim attēlam ir tukšs alt atribūts; faila nosaukums ir 2023-12-14-life-for-species-rapulu-seminars-1024x587.jpg

Amphibians and reptiles are fascinating and significant animal groups within Latvia's nature conservation system. These species are particularly sensitive to various impacts of human activities, both direct and indirect, as well as environmental and climate changes, diseases, invasive species, and wildlife trade. Therefore, a wide range of conservation measures are necessary, starting from public education and engagement, practical habitat restoration and protection, to supplementing wild populations with individuals bred in captivity.

Although there are few amphibian and reptile experts in Latvia, the country has many excellent examples of conservation measures for these species. During the seminar, specialists from the Riga Zoo, Elza Birbele, Rebeka Šķērstiņa, and Alessandro Di Marzio, introduced participants to the latest results of a tree frog population restoration project, as well as the experience and opportunities of Latvian experts in global endangered species conservation projects.

A representative from the Latgale Zoo, Mihails Pupiņš, addressed the conservation issues of the fire-bellied toad and the European pond turtle, as well as the problems with invasive species. Meanwhile, specialists from the Nature Conservation Agency, Ilze Reinika, Alise Ozoliņa, and Rihards Miķelsons, highlighted the importance of public engagement, presenting the results of the campaign “Mission Toad. Save the Prince!” and initiating discussions on public monitoring of amphibians and reptiles and the involvement of the public and experts to reduce illegal trade in these animals.

Andris Čeirāns, an amphibian and reptile expert from the University of Latvia, introduced the assessment results of species endangerment, best practice examples, and experience in developing conservation plans. He also stimulated discussions on the main challenges and priorities for the near future in the conservation of amphibians and reptiles in Latvia.

Jēkabs Dzenis, coordinator of the LIFE FOR SPECIES project, stated: “The seminar provided a unique opportunity to bring together leading Latvian researchers and conservation practitioners in the field of amphibians and reptiles, nature conservation experts, and students with a keen interest in the conservation of these animals. Such sharing of knowledge, experience, and ideas is extremely important for addressing the countless challenges in the field of amphibian and reptile conservation, both by increasing the capacity of existing experts and by promoting cooperation and involving new specialists.”

The seminar was organized by the Nature Conservation Agency in collaboration with the Biology Institute of the University of Latvia and the Riga Zoo.

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