So, I pondered the issue and thought that a good replacement activity would be to teach people to support the conservation efforts of endangered rabbit species.
Indigenous rabbits are important to the ecosystem but releasing rabbits into the wild means that non-native species pose a danger to the ecosystem they are released into.
Check out this invasive species list (PDF).
Rabbits are a sensitive sort and some of the most endangered species of rabbits include:
- Brazilian rabbit (Sylvilagus) Brazil
- Volcano rabbit (Romerolagus diazi) Mexico
- Amami rabbit (Pentalagus furnessi) Japan
- Riverine Rabbit Group (Bunolagus monticularis) South Africa
- California brush rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani riparius) USA
- Pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) USA
- Sumatran Rabbit (Nesolagus netscheri) Indonesia
The decreasing numbers of any species usually have alarming impacts most people miss.
From the IUCN:
The European Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) was introduced to Western Europe by man as early as the Roman period, and since then to South America and Australasia. Only Spain, Portugal and areas of North Africa are its native homeland.
Ironically, it is from these areas that over-hunting, habitat loss and eradication programmes have combined with two diseases (Myxomatosis and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Virus), to threaten the European Rabbit’s very existence. The survival of the Iberian Lynx (Lynx pardinus) and Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila adalberti) are pivotal on the success of the rabbit, which is a main source of prey for these emblematic predators.
In the 2008 update of The IUCN Red List the conservation status of the European Rabbit was uplisted to Near Threatened across the whole of its native range.
“It is hoped that these reclassifications can help pressure governments and conservation organisations to do more to conserve the species, and also help change the view of rabbits from being predominantly a pest to also being a vitally important component of native ecosystems.” Dan Ward, spokesperson for SOS Lynx
People sometimes miss just how important some species are and how other animals are dependent on the them.
I’ve been fortunate to work with a variety of endangered species–and while I was at the Durrell Trust I was able to work with the volcano rabbit which is found on only four Volcanic hillsides in Mexico.
The problem with many species is that they are difficult to conserve and to breed in captivity–and the volcano rabbit was no exception.
What can you do?
It is hard to locate specific conservation program to support but I always encourage that action.
- Support the Durrell Trust or the Wildlife Trust International since they always work with endangered species on a global level and have a conservation network like no other.
- Help discourage live Easter bunnies by donating to the House Rabbit Society.
- Purchase Make Mine Chocolate Campaign Mechandise here or check out the options at the UK Make Mine Chocolate.
Other Rabbit Stuff to Explore
USDA National Agriculture Library Rabbit Links (Care, Farming, Welfare, and more)
Rabbit Journals (also related to commercial interests)
Do you have a rabbit conservation source you can recommend? If so, leave your comment below.