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Zoological and Botanical Garden Pilsen has decided to distribute its support for rescue projects evenly. A part of the energy is diverted into local activities, and another part abroad. Close to Our Homes actively acts to preserve the population of Corncrake (Crex crex) in the Pilsner region. It also conducts activities aimed at increasing the declining population of Little owl (Athene noctua) in the Czech Republic. Since 2010 it aims to grow select endangered species of plants in the Pilsner region. In spring, it also always monitors and saves amphibians on one frequented road section in Pilsen, catastral territory Valcha. Detailed information about each of these projects is in individual sections below.
Protection of Corncrake in the Pilsner region
Since 2010, the Zoological and Botanical Garden Pilsen actively participates on the Research and Practical Protection of the Corncrake (Crex crex) in the Pilsner Region project. Lately the rapid decline of birds of agricultural lands in Czechia and the whole of western and central Europe is a growing concern. The Corncrake is an interesting and protected species indigenous to the Czech nature. It inhabits mostly vast, extensively farmed meadows and waterlogged areas, mostly along the borders with Germany. It is also an important species in the EU, which grants donations to farmers for protecting the bird nesting areas. The corncrake population and also other bird species are threatened by too much grass cutting, cutting grass during nesting season, high speed and wide range of combine harvesters, noise and light pollution in the proximity of courtship areas, destruction of marshes and adjacent biomes, urbanization, agricultural monocultures (primarily rapeseed - Brassica napus), excessive pesticide use, intensive animal pasture, increase of stray cat populations, forestation of pastures or wrong donation policy in the agriculture sector.
Safeguarding of exceptionally protected species of plants
Since 2010 the Zoological and Botanical Garden Pilsen is working on the project Rescue of Exceptionally Endangered Plant Species of the Pilsner Region Ex Situ (off site conservation) in the Zoological and Botanical Garden Pilsen. The goal of this project is mostly reproduction of some of the most endangered species and later their reintroduction back to their natural habitat. At first, 7 species on different levels of endangerment were chosen. With the assistance of experts from the Pilsner Environmental Department and from the Český les Protected Landscape Area, the plants were professionally relocated to the Zoological and BG Pilsen, where they began to be grown in ex situ. On the forefront of these rescue efforts lies the Umbellate Wintergreen (Chimaphila umbellata) – a critically endangered species, Potentilla thuringiaca – severely endangered, Dwarf Everlast (Helichrysum arenarium) – severely endangered, Cross Gentian (Gentiana cruciata) – endangered, Knotted Clover (Trifolium striatum) – not protected, however is, according to the IUCN Red List, classified as critically endangered, Swamp Willow (Salix myrtilloides) – critically endangered, or the Spoonleaf Sundew (Drosera intermedia), which is also critically endangered.
Artificial rearing and reintroduction of endangered species
The Zoological and Botanical Garden Pilsen together with the regional office of Pilsner Region supports the protection project ZO ČSOP in Spálené Poříčí, which attempts to artificially rear and afterwards reintroduce this endangered owl species to the Klatovy region. Because of security concerns, they don´t publish the exact location, where ideal conditions for breeding, artificial rearing and reintroduction of the owls into the wilderness were created.
The Little owl (Athene noctua) is a critically endangered agricultural land species in Czechia. With intensive agriculture disappears variety, which leads to species disappearing one after another. The little owl, formerly symbolizing death in some cultures, now itself faces extinction. It can even come to its end by manmade traps, for example water barrels, chimneys or uncovered pipes. Far more dangerous are, however, changes in farm management, reduction of grassland areas ridden with insects, heavy traffic and excessive pesticide use.
Artificially reared little owls, but also barn owls (Tyto alba) from many zoos, including the Pilsen Zoo, also bolster owl populations in Moravia, where ZO ČSOP in Bartošovice has been attempting to reintroduce them for many years.
The Frog transfers
Since 2017 the Zoological and Botanical Garden Pilsen, along with enthusiastic volunteers actively contributes to monitoring the transfer of frogs in Pilsen, cadastral territory Valcha, city district Pilsen 3. The environmental department of the regional office of the Pilsner region reacted to public initiatives and assessed an area of increased amphibian migration from their wintering grounds through a highly frequented road into a low-lying pond. This is a truly critical section, where hundreds of frogs die each year. The regional office provisionally secured the area with mobile fences and traps, where the amphibians are collected. Their fate is then in the hands of some of the Zoo caretakers or volunteers. The whole area is checked twice each day and the animals are brought across the street into the pond. The end goal of this project is to protect the animals permanently. A very real possibility would be the construction of a frog underpass, which is already being prepared.
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