Authors: Paul Lucian IBU & Alexandru STRUGARIU
Elaphe sauromates is a critically endangered species in Romania, being cited in the past in very few localities from south-eastern Romania (Dobrudja and Moldavia). On the 13th of May, 2007, a young adult female Elaphe sauromates was found in the geographical unit of “Subcarpatii de curbur?”, near the “Vulcanii Noroiosi Pâclele Mari” Nature Reserve in the administrative territory of Pâclele, in Buz?u county (Romania). This is the first sighting of this species outside of Dobrudja for the past 70 years and the first ever record for this species in this region of Romania.
On the 13th of May, 2007, at 16.00 h. a young adult (total length circa 100cm) female Elaphe sauromates was captured approximately 500-600 m north of the “Vulcanii Noroio?i Pâclele Mari” Nature Reserve (fig. 1), in the administrative territory of the locality of Pâclele, Buz?u County. At the moment of capture, the snake was lying in an open field, partially coiled in the short grass. The specimen was photographed and subsequently released into its natural habitat (fig.2, 3).
The geographic coordinates of the area are 45º20’40.61’’ N and 26º42’46.80’’ E and the altitude is 315-320m ASL. The habitat in which the snake was found was that of a small hill with typical steppe vegetation (mostly Stipa sp. and Fescuta sp.) with a few scattered bushes (Prunus spinosus and Rosa canina ). One species of amphibian (Bombina variegata ) and two other species of reptiles (Lacerta viridis and Lacerta agilis ) were also recorded in the area in which the blotched snake was found.
Elaphe sauromates is considered critically endangered in the Romanian red data book of vertebrates, and is likely to be represented in Romania by less than a few hundred individuals (Iftime 2005). Being a typical species of the steppe regions (Fuhn & Vancea 1961, Fuhn 1969, Iftime 2005), it has probably lost most of its original habitat due to the rapid extension of agricultural fields in all parts of its range.
Furthermore, Elaphe sauromates is mentioned in Annex 2 of of the Order MMGA 1198/2005, the conservation of this species demanding the establishment of “Special Areas of Conservation” (SAC) – as part of the Natura 2000 network. In order to establish correct conservation measures for the herpetological fauna, the precise distribution of the species must be known (Ghira et al 2002). Therefore, taking the rarity of Elaphe sauromates in Romania and the scarcity of the data with regards to its distribution into consideration, it is the authors’ opinion that more thorough herpetological studies of the “Subcarpa?ii de Curbur?” area are required in order to establish this species’ distribution and situation in the area.
The authors of the present note are indebted to Iulian Gherghel for providing the maps and geographical indications for the area.
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First published in North Western Journal of Zoology, 3, 2007
Published under the terms of the Open Access Policy