Two species rediscovered in the Baux Valley

Photo: David Pérez, CC-BY-SA-4.0

The last few months have seen the rediscovery of two species, formerly thought to have disappeared from the ancient marshes of the Baux Valley in southern France.

Thanks to the expertise of mammalogist Françoise Poitevin, from CEFE-CNRS in Montpellier, A Rocha France has discovered a healthy population of Southern Water Vole Arvicola sapidus living in the Ilon Marsh. The last evidence of its presence here was in 2010.

Although it has been protected in France since 2012, the Southern Water Vole is classed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of threatened species and, outside of France and the Iberian Peninsula, it occurs nowhere else in the world.

However, the heavy rain of recent weeks has enabled an even more astonishing discovery.

Photo: © Thomas Altherr, A Rocha France

One night in April, a group of A Rocha France volunteers photographed a female Western Spadefoot Pelobates cultripes. This small toad can quickly bury itself in sand thanks to specially adapted back feet. Here it will wait patiently for favourable weather when it will leave its hiding to look for a mate in nearby ponds and marshes. It is listed as vulnerable on France’s red list of threatened species and exists only in a handful of locations in the region.

The main threats to populations of both the Southern Water Vole and the Western Spadefoot is the degradation of their habitats and the introduction of predator species. Their discovery in the Baux Valley gives strength to the efforts of A Rocha France in their work to restore the biodiversity of the Alpilles region.

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