Sin embargo, en las últimas décadas estas poblaciones se han visto diezmadas debido a una mala gestión de sus poblaciones y sobre todo al efecto devastador de la mixomatosis y la enfermedad hemorrágica vírica. Las consecuencias que esto ha provocado sobre los ecosistemas que dependen en gran parte del conejo han sido nefastas. El cuadrante suroccidental de la península es la zona donde más estragos han causado estas enfermedades, afectando en mayor medida a la subespecie algirus, predominante en esta zona.

 O-Live presenta un proyecto que busca el refuerzo y establecimiento de nuevos núcleos estables de cría de Oryctolagus cuniculus algirus en el entorno del Parque Natural Sierra de Grazalema. Para ello pondremos en marcha una serie de medidas directas e indirectas:

  • Adecuación del hábitat: Creación de claros en zonas de matorral denso, habilitación de  refugios en zonas expuestas y construcción de majanos para fomentar el asentamiento y la cría en zonas concretas. 

  • Cría en semilibertad y reintroducción de ejemplares: provenientes de una estación de cría de conejo silvestre en condiciones de semilibertad que garantice la suelta de ejemplares adaptados a las condiciones del lugar de liberación y compatibles genéticamente con las poblaciones autóctonas.

Wild rabbit recovery project

 

The European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) is a lagomorph mammal of the family Leporidae. It is a native species of the Iberian Peninsula, however nowadays it has a worldwide distribution and is considered an invasive species out of their natural habitat.

It is a key species for the Iberian ecosystems, reflected by the name “Hispania” given to the Iberian Peninsula, which meant “land of rabbits” for the Romans. This rabbit is a keystone species which has a role as an ecosystem engineer and is the major prey for over 40 species of predators. Moreover, the rabbit has a great importance for humans. Historically, it is the most commonly hunted wild game in Spain. Seventy percent of our territory is considered as hunting areas and over a million hunters are harvesting more than 4 million rabbits per year.

In the Iberian Peninsula there are two subspecies of common rabbit, Oryctolagus cuniculus cuniculus and Oryctolagus cuniculus algirus, with distinct areas of distribution. These subspecies represent the original rabbit populations and should be preserved for their cultural and heritage value, as well as for their importance to the functioning of our ecosystems.

O-Live has developed a project to establish new breeding points of Oryctolagus cuniculus algirus or strengthen the old ones in Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. To achieve this, we would conduct a set of direct and indirect measures:

  • Habitat improvement measures:  by thinning out areas of dense scrub, establishing shelters in exposed areas or by constructing refuges for wild rabbits.

  • Semi-free breeding for reintroduction: this will guarantee the release of individuals adapted to local conditions and which are genetically compatible with native populations.

     

     

O-Live Environmental Association

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*All the images of nests or captured bird were taken during authorised scientific experiments

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