Connect with us


A field of fresh cowpats welcomes the first wild-bred dung beetles in France | permutation



In a forest clearing filled with cow cakes, French history is being made: the country’s first translocation of dung beetles to a nature reserve near Bordeaux.

With the same pomp and ceremony as the release of the Iberian lynx or European bison, about 60 insects were brought into the marshy forests of Etang de Cousso in southwest France on Wednesday to restore vital ecosystem functions. coast of the Atlantic.

dung beetles (scarab laticollis) will feed on waste produced by dozens of wild cows that roam the dunes, moorlands and swamps of the wildlife restoration project, recycling nutrients into the soil.

Dung beetle populations have declined due to intensive farming. Antiparasitics applied to cattle end up in the waste that the insects eat. Photographer: Neil Aldridge/Rewilding Europe

The insects disappeared from the region in the 1960s as the number of wild cattle declined. The last herd of free roaming seascape the breed was saved from slaughter by conservationists in the late 1980s. Prior to the establishment of extensive pine plantations under Napoleon III, this area of ​​Gascony was known for its pastoralism, with shepherds tending their flocks on 5-foot wooden piles, and dung beetles thrived on the waste.

Now, along with the wild cattle, the dung beetles have returned, released into a field freshly prepared with cowcakes for their arrival.

“Dung beetle populations around the world have been greatly reduced since the intensification of agriculture. Cattle and other domestic animals are highly valued by farmers. Worms and parasites seep into the waste, and the number of dung beetles has been greatly reduced,” said Christel Charlet, assistant director of the hospital. Etang de Cusso nature reserve.

“Here we work with a local breed of cows to manage the land. We do not treat them with drugs. Even though cows have parasites, they are part of the life cycle, part of the biodiversity. Now, with the dung beetle project, the idea is to give this huge family of insects a chance to make a comeback.”

Cow and calf graze in the field
As part of the rewilding project seascape wild cattle, which disappeared from the region in the 1960s, have been brought back to the reserve. Photographer: Neil Aldridge/Rewilding Europe

There are over 5,000 species of dung beetles, and they are found on every continent except Antarctica. Not all of them are “skating rinks”, who form the manure into a ball and roll it to where they want to bury it in the ground. Someone digs tunnels in manure, someone steals balls from skating rinks, and someone lives on garbage. They are considered a cornerstone due to their role in seed decomposition and dispersal.

Release of this batch scarab laticollisbrought from Montpellier in the south of France, was funded by Rewilding Europe European Fund for the Return of Wildlifewhich has also supported projects to reintroduce the lynx in Poland, Bonelli’s eagles in Sardinia and water voles in Cornwall.

Mammals, especially large carnivores, often dominate reintroductions, but conservationists say plants and wildlife must be returned to every level of the ecosystem for it to truly be restored.

skip previous promotional email