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Saddle locust returning to Limburg after 130 years

Internashonal

Saddle locust returning to Limburg after 130 years


Ecologists are trying to bring back the saddle locust to the Groote Heide near Venlo. The extremely rare grasshopper species disappeared from the nature reserve around 1900. The scientists hope to have a thriving population again within a few years, Jeroen van Leeuwen of ecological consultancy Natuurbalans told L1 Nieuws.

The saddle grasshopper gets its name from its saddle-shaped pronotum, but it is best known for its distinctive call. Singing males can be heard from dozens of meters away. It used to be common in the drier and barren heathlands in Limburg, but the insect has disappeared in many places due to forestation, grassification, and mossification.

The saddle locust, scientific name Ephippiger diurnus, is classified as a priority species—a species that is in danger of dying out and for which additional measures are urgently required.

Van Leeuwen is hopeful for a successful reintroduction on the Groote Heide. “Soil measurements and plant variation show that it is very suitable for the species here,” he told L1 Nieuws. “It cannot fly, only walk. So the grasshopper has difficulty reaching new areas, only if they are contiguous. That is why we are going to help.”

Natuurbalans has agreed with the Limburgs Landschap Foundation, which manages the Groote Heide, to release the animals for six consecutive years. “We think that they can form a good population within six years without further help,” Van Leeuwen said. “If it doesn’t work after that, we have made a wrong assessment. Then it ends there.”



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