Sicaleons Urgent actions for the conservation of the Sicilian Rock Partridge, Alectoris graeca whitakeri Schiebel, 1934.
Project objectives:

Project is aimed at ensuring the conservation of the population of the Sicilian endemic sub-species of Sicilian rock partridges ("Coturnice di Sicilia" – Alectoris graeca whitakeri) living exclusively within the Sicilian island and identified as a priority specie by Directive 2009/147/CE.
Today this population results shared in limited areas (parks and Nature Reserves, and some SPA), and it is threatened by the phenomenon of reduction and fragmentation.
At this regard, the project is aimed at stopping the fragmentation of population living in some protected sites, with particular reference to the Nature 2000 areas, identified as Special Protection Areas (SPA), through the realisation of several conservation actions targeted mainly to the identification, reduction and/or removal of the main factors that represent a threat, and that affect in a negative way the size and density of population as well as the reproductivity of couples living in the area covered by the project. Moreover, the project aims at stopping the loss of biodiversity and increase the naturalistic conscience of local human inhabitants, through raise awareness actions.

Actions and means involved:

From a practical point of view the project general objective will be reach through actions addressed, from one hand, to the environmental management, the reduction of predation made by wild boars, and the incidental removal of hybrid individuals, while from the other hand to the fast increase of the population through interventions of restocking or local reintroduction.
In detail, our project aims at reaching the following specific objectives:

  • to do a population census with the aim to know the real number of individuals living in the area concerned, as well as their geographical distribution and their relation with the habitat.
  • to do a series of interventions of environmental management in order to make the area concerned by the project more suited to the species.
  • to assess the presence of eventual genetic combination in the wild population of Sicilian Rock Partridge , caused by the past introduction of other species and sub species of rock partridges. The final aim of this objective is those of removing the hybrid individuals identified, and in so doing stopping the loss of genetic biodiversity in the area concerned.
  • to control and, if possible, to eradicate the wild boars present in the area, in order to increase the reproductivity of pairs.
  • to realize the first stock of captive-breeding specimens to restocking and/or reintroducing of specimens in areas where species have been victims of recent decrease and/or local disappearance. The aim of the actions related to this objective is to increase (in a fast way) the distribution and numerical consistency of population, by reducing the fragmentation.
  • to raise awareness, among the local community as well as among young students attending primary and secondary schools, about the existence of the Sicilian Rock Partridge, its life and history, the reasons why we must protect its population, and what we can do to reach this objective, etc.
Expected results (outputs and quantified achievements):
  • Safeguard and increase of Sicilian Rock Partridge population within the SPA concerned;
  • Biodiversity maintenance within the SPA concerned;
  • Creation of the first stock of reproducers in captivity of Sicilian Rock Partridge. At this regard, it is important to underline that today rearing of different species of partridges exists, but no rearing of Sicilian Rock Partridge exists and should be used for release in other Sicilian areas.
  • Raise awareness among the local communities about the importance of biodiversity concept, with particular reference to the project results.