Within the framework of the LIFE Iberconejo project, Trujillo hosts on February 15 and 16, 2023 the Iberconejo Conference on the promotion of wild rabbit populations. The objective of these conferences is to reach a consensus on the strategy to improve rabbit populations through an exchange of experiences between conservationists, hunters, farmers, scientists and administrations.
"The wild rabbit is an endemic species of the Iberian Peninsula and key in the Mediterranean ecosystem since it is the prey of some 40 species of predators such as the Iberian lynx or the imperial eagle.”, recalls Ramón Pérez de Ayala, Director of the LIFE Iberconejo project. In addition to functioning as an "ecosystem engineer" due to its role in modifying the landscape, dispersing seeds, and its role in conserving biodiversity, "The species also has a great socioeconomic impact as it is the main piece of small game and because it causes serious damage to agriculture in certain areas of Spain."He adds.
Considering its ecological and economic importance, the rabbit has been the object of actions to promote its populations by conservationists, scientists and hunters, with very different results. "In the last 10 years, wild rabbit populations in the Iberian Peninsula have suffered a decline of more than 70% and up to 90% in the last 70”, emphasizes Pérez de Ayala.
Point of exchange of best practices
Our Iberconejo Conference on the promotion of wild rabbit populations, which will have a total of 31 presentations and 5 round tables, are organized with the support of the Trujillo City Hall, Xavier Salas Foundation as well as the Extremadura joint. Extremadura, together with Portugal, is one of the regions where the promotion of rabbit populations is most necessary; and it is also the bridge between the Lusitanian region and the Spanish regions participating in the project. Researchers from the Institute for Research in Hunting Resources (IREC – CSIC, UCLM, JCCM), will travel from the University of Castilla-La Mancha (UCLM) to Trujillo to participate in the International Conference for the Promotion of the Wild Rabbit, organized by the LIFE Iberconejo Project, with the aim of sharing and developing management protocols related to the conservation of their populations.
During the event, health and genetic management, habitat management, repopulations and refuges, hunting management and administrative management will be addressed with the aim of updating good promotion practices, optimizing recovery actions and obtaining practical and effective conclusions. For it, a common space for dialogue has been created in which to learn about successes and mistakes, as well as to identify the best management options, with the participation of hunters, conservationists, researchers and hunting and environmental sections of administrations.
"It is essential to exchange experiences and determine which actions are the most appropriate”, concludes the Director of the LIFE Iberconejo Project.
About the LIFE Iberconejo Project
El LIFE Iberconejo project Its objectives are to create standardized monitoring systems, including health and damage to agriculture; learn good management practices; and create a governance structure for the comprehensive management of the species. Developed in the Iberian Peninsula until December 2024, it includes representatives of all the social agents involved in the management of the wild rabbit (administrations, scientists, conservationists, farmers and hunters), thus reflecting the commitment of the different actors with a common objective.
El European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) It is an endemic species of the Iberian Peninsula and key in the Mediterranean ecosystem since it is the prey of some 40 species of predators such as the Iberian lynx or the imperial eagle.
Coordinated by WWF Spain, the project has as partners the Community Boards of Castilla-La Mancha, Andalusia and Extremadura, the Institute for the Conservation of Nature and Forests (ICNF, Portugal), the CBD-Habitat Foundation, the ANP -WWF Portugal, the Royal Spanish Hunting Federation (RFEC), the National Association of Game Owners and Producers (ANPC), the Union of Small Farmers and Ranchers (UPA), the University of Castilla-La Mancha (IREC-UCLM) , the National Institute of Agricultural and Veterinary Research (INIAV), the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto/CIBIO-BIOPOLIS, the State Agency of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC/IESA) and the San Pablo CEU University Foundation.