Background and organisation of studbook breeding programmes
Since 1992 several Dutch herpetological societies have initiated a total of 60
studbook programmes on reptile and amphibian species. In 1997, all programmes
were condensed into an independent foundation known as: "Stichting
Overkoepelend Orgaan Stamboeken", now knows as European Studbook Foundation (ESF). Early in its development,
ESF formulated the very important criteria that no studbook participant
would jeopardise their important herpetological contributions and goals
with any commercial enterprise from their specimens, either currently or
in the future.
aims of the studbook programmes in general are:
These conservation goals are particularly relevant today as wild populations
of many reptiles and amphibians experience increasing survival pressures.
Establishing working programs that emphasise captive husbandry in conjunction
with fieldwork is crucial in developing sound wildlife management. A significant
contribution that captive animals may perform is through the concept of
re-introduction of their potential offspring. Although re-introduction
of species is at a very early stage and occasionally controversial, there
may come a time when the offspring of captive animals are the sole source
for re-introducing species into previously suitable habitat where the natural
population has become extinct. More importantly re-introduction has the
potential of insuring genetic diversity to populations that have become
unnaturally isolated due to human interference.
- To inform the herpetological community with data and publications generated from captive situations and field studies
- Procuring, maintaining, and reproducing genetically healthy captive individuals for future loans to recognised individuals and institutions
When a healthy captive population is present, this will decrease the number
of wild specimens of the species taken from the wild for the live animal
Each studbook is coordinated by a studbook coordinator. As mentioned before,
all coordinators are supervised by an overall foundation. Coordination
of the studbooks on Homopus is organised through the Homopus
Keepers of species for which a studbook exists, can apply for registration. Only
specimens that are present legally can be registered. Registration occurs by means of
a standard registration form. When the specimens have been registered in
the administration, the keeper (now participant) receives the studbook
registration numbers of his animals.
Registering is voluntarily; specimens can be withdrawn at any moment and there will
never be advises (for instance about transferring solitary specimens in
order to form suitable breeding groups) that must be followed. However,
all persons involved in a studbook are supposed to share the same general
view on studbooks and studbook management (preventing inbreeding, maintaining
genetic diversity, sharing of information, et cetera), understanding that
decisions have to be made in the benefit of the studbook populations.
In case mutations (births, deaths, transfers, sexual maturity) occur, the
participant should post a modification form to the studbook coordinator. For
the registration of animals in the studbook, the coordinator uses specialised
software. This software allows to calculate inbreeding factors from individual
animals, thus presenting the opportunity to compose optimal breeding groups
(the inbreeding factor should be maintained as low as possible in order
to set up a genetically diverse captive population).
At least once a year, a report is printed and distributed among the participants
of the studbook and the overall foundation. The reports of all studbooks
are collected in a yearbook that may be obtained from the secretary of
the overall foundation. The names and locations where specific species
are being kept are protected by using anonymous codes.
The studbook coordinator should have a central position in collecting and
distributing information (articles, personal observations, et cetera) gathered
within the studbook. He may ask a small handling fee from the participants,
in case these agree with that.