The key part of our project is to reintroduce meadow vipers – born and raised in the Hungarian Meadow Viper Center – back into their natural habitat where they can live wild and free. At the end of July we released a total of 50 meadow vipers into two grasslands of the Kiskunság National Park that are – based on previous research – considered to provide suitable habitat conditions for the snakes.
On both sites in Upper Kiskunság area five artificial wintering burrows had been implemented previously that helps snakes to adapt to the new environment as easily as possible. The released vipers were sexually mature of at least 3-4 years of age and there were gravid females among them. Protective nests had been placed over the burrows to provide protection from predators and thus ensure that animals can explore their surroundings safely and promote survival in the early stages. We try to extend this protection to the entire reintroduction area, which is why our volunteers are on guard from morning till night and keep away the predators by their mere presence in the first month after releasing.
Our work doesn’t come to an end with the release as we continue to monitor vipers throughout the year. With the help of data collected during regular field research we learn survival rate and reproductive success of the released snakes.
In the last 20 years since the start of the project, a total of 723 Hungarian meadow vipers have been introduced into 10 natural habitats. In the future we will continue our work so that many more of their conspecific can get back into the wild.