Temporarily move reptiles away from short-term threats

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

  • Two studies evaluated the effects of temporarily moving reptiles away from short-term threats on their populations. One study was in France and one was in Spain.



  • Abundance (1 study): One replicated, randomized, controlled, before-and-after study in Spain found that after temporarily relocating Hermann’s tortoises during vegetation management, a similar number were observed compared to before management began.
  • Survival (1 study): One replicated study in France found that at least 25% of temporarily relocated and released Hermann’s tortoises survived for 4–5 years after re-release. The study also found that 5% of individuals died while in temporary captivity.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated study in 1989–1990 and 1993–1994 of roadside verges in Toulon, France (Guyot & Clobert 1997) found that almost a quarter of Hermann’s tortoises Testudo hermanni temporarily relocated during highway construction were recaptured 4–5 years after release. Four–five years after the completion of a highway, 70 of 284 (25%) temporarily relocated and released Hermann’s tortoises were recaptured. The first-year survival rate was estimated to be 51% and annual survival rate was estimated to be 78%. Most recaptured tortoises were discovered in the vicinity of their release location. While in temporary captivity, 16 of 300 tortoises died. In May 1989, a total of 300 tortoises were captured and held in an enclosure until the completion of a highway in October 1990. Tortoises were provided with supplementary food several times a week while in captivity. The new highway was fenced to limit tortoise access to the road and two culverts and a road underpass were constructed to facilitate tortoise movements. Visual searches for tortoises were carried out either side of the highway in April–October 1993–1994.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated, randomized, controlled, before-and-after study in 2013–2014 in abandoned vineyards, pine and oak forest in Catalonia, Spain (Vilardell-Bartino et al. 2015) found that after being temporarily removed and then returned after ground vegetation was cleared, western Hermann’s tortoises Testudo hermanni hermanni were still in the area. Six months after release following vegetation cutting, five Hermann’s tortoises had been observed in cleared plots compared to four tortoises before clearance (whether they were the same tortoises is not known) and single nests were laid in two of 50 cleared plots. Eighteen months after cutting, single nests were laid in five of 50 plots. In February 2013, fifty plots (100m2 each) at three sites were cleared of shrub cover using a brush cutter. Fifteen tortoises were removed before cutting using trained detection dogs Canis lupus familiaris and put back afterwards. Plots were monitored for tortoises once a week in March–August 2013 and checked for nests in August 2013 and 2014.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Sainsbury K.A., Morgan W.H., Watson M., Rotem G., Bouskila A., Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2021) Reptile Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for reptiles. Conservation Evidence Series Synopsis. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

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Reptile Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Reptile Conservation
Reptile Conservation

Reptile Conservation - Published 2021

Reptile synopsis

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