A significant challenge for ex situ programs relates to ensuring that all programs are adequately supported for their duration. Establishing facilities and collecting rescue populations is only the first, albeit perhaps the single greatest expense. However, it is insufficient to support only those first-year expenses without operational support for the long term, which may amount to years or even decades. In addition to financial planning, ex situ programs should establish at the onset a plan for working with partners to mitigate threats in the wild and, where necessary, getting animals back into the wild, as well as how to distribute the progeny of captive animals in the interim.
Given these potential complications, the AArk recommends that ex situ management is implemented:
- only when necessary, as determined by IUCN/SSC Amphibian Specialist Group field experts through AArk Conservation Needs Assessment Workshops or similar processes
- as near to the species’ range as possible, preferably by nationals in the same country
- in isolation from populations of the same species in the wild
- with linkage to in situ threat mitigation in order to minimize duration of the ex situ program and therefore risks
- through a management plan including all stakeholders and detailing long-term project strategies, including a business plan, measures of success and criteria for program termination, and distribution/ownership issues.
As part of our Conservation Needs Assessment process, we have developed an easy to use checklist that should be utilised prior to the commencement of any ex situ conservation breeding program for amphibians. If, and only if, all of the critical program aspects can be met for a species, should a new program be implemented.
You can use our program implementation tool online or download the tool and use it offline. Data should be entered for each species that is being considered for an ex situ conservation program. The online tool is also available in Spanish and in Portuguese.
When considering the implementation of a new ex situ program the species should be added to the tool, and then questions 1-21 are answered. All questions have Yes/No answers. Before implementing a new program, it is important that most questions have Yes answers, when this is the case, the chances of a successful ex situ program are much greater. The questions that require a Yes answer in order for the program to proceed are marked with an *.
When the answers to all questions are Yes, all the criteria have been met for the implementation of an ex situ program for that species. If the answer to any question is No, additional resources or expertise are required.
In the online version of the tool, help for each questions is shown below each question. In the offline version, clicking on the hyperlinked column headers will display the help text for that question, along with recommendations for how to proceed in the event that the answer to the question is No.
A description of the program implementation tool, and help text is also available in a separate pdf file.
See the Establishing Ex Situ Amphibian Programs page for additional information on implementing amphibian conservation programs.