The breeding management of the Western Derby eland
The core of the Western Derby eland conservation programme forms the population bred in captivity in the Bandia and Fathala Reserves in Senegal. The numbers of Derby elands in captivity exceeded one hundred animals under the guidance of our team. There were just 6 founding animals, one male and five females captured in 2000 in the Niokolo Koba National Park, from which the conservation programme was developed. Due to the high degree of kinship, it is essential to choose the individuals for the breeding programme very carefully, to select the right males and females for reproduction and to track genetic relationships between the animals. Our work comprises yearly identification of new born calves, keeping the studbook, organization and realization of transports of breeding animals and other activities.
In 2018, we are starting the "Back Home" project. The aim of the project is to conduct the pilot translocation of captive-born individuals from the reserves in the Niokolo Koba national park. This consists in building an acclimatisation enclosure with necessary infrastructure inside of the Niokolo Koba national park, training rangers in the small population management relevant to WDE, and bringing a group of selected WDE individuals (5-7 males) from the semi-captive population back to their natural environment.
Environmental education in Senegalu
We believe that the protection of biodiversity and long-term species
conservation is not possible without the support of local people. The antelopes
could get the support they need only when the local people, their
co-inhabitants would know them. For the people of Senegal the Western Derby
eland is real national treasure. Unfortunately, very few of them are aware of
this treasure. It is our work to help and to create educational programmes to
inform and to bring up new nature protection enthusiasts.
Public awareness in the Czech Republic
The Western Derby eland is in critical situation and raising public
awareness is crucial, in the Czech Republic as well as in other countries
because also the long-distance help is meaningful. That is why we are organising every summer so called "Antelope days" in our partner zoological gardens. Visits at elementary and grammar schools are also included in our plans.
Research is the key area of our activities and the Western Derby eland conservation programme. Despite the size of this antelope there is very little known about this species. The efforts for its conservation would be of less effect without proper knowledge of this animal. Therefore our research focuses on studying the ecology and foraging behaviour of the Western Derby eland in its natural habitat in Niokolo Koba and also in the fenced reserves. We try to find out more about its food preferences and also about the influence of grazing on the vegetation composition in the reserves. We study also maternal behaviour and reproductive parameters. The knowledge of these factors is crucial to maintain the breeding programme in captivity and it also enables to make estimates about development of its wild populations.