Is long-distance translocation an effective mitigation tool for white-lipped pit vipers (Trimeresurus albolabris) in South China?

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Translocation of ‘nuisance’ snakes is frequently employed on a large scale in densely populated areas in order to mitigate human-wildlife conflict. However, the methods used are often applied haphazardly and are rarely evaluated, especially in tropical Asia. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of long-distance translocation on the white-lipped pit viper (Trimeresurus albolabris) in South China, where they are routinely removed from urban areas or homes and translocated into national parks. Using radio telemetry, we compared the ecology and biology of ‘resident’ and ‘translocated’ snakes to determine if long-distance translocation (> 3 km) is a viable conservation option. Translocation extended the period over which predation occurred and significantly decreased survival. Translocated snakes made unidirectional movements away from points of release, yet these movements were not oriented towards points of origin and there was no evidence for homing behavior. Translocation significantly increased frequency of movements and distances moved by female snakes, but no such differences were observed for male snakes. In contrast with resident snakes, translocated snakes did not show synchrony in the onset of brumation, and translocation appeared to negatively affect reproduction in both males and females. Our results suggest that long-distance translocation is not the best management approach to handle nuisance individuals of this species. Findings of this study can be used to prescribe improvements for current strategies to deal with nuisance snakes in Hong Kong and in the region.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Biological Conservation