EAZA Ex situ Programme (EEP)

Desertas wolf spider

(Hognas ingens)​

 Kerry Marcus
Institution:   Bristol Zoo Project

→ EAZA Member Area

Bristol Wild Place

IUCN Red List status

IUCN Red List CR



Programme roles

Direct Conservation icon Population restoration
Restore the ecosystem and re-stock the population over the next 5-7 years to reintroduce a portion of the captive population depending on how the ecosystem restoration goes.

Insurance population
Given its an endemic species with limited habitat, default is in this case to insurance the population. The programme characteristics would be the same as for the population restoration. It should be considered to collect material for the biobank (this applies to all species). 

Research on habitat preferences. 2 PhDs already studying this species (it has happened, it is happening and there are plans to continue with this research). Studying the interaction of the spider with the invasive grass. Linked to habitat restoration. Applied research benefits for the conservation of this species.

Conservation education
Raising awareness in range (in Madeira). Flagship endemic invertebrate species of Madeira. Umbrella species. Provided from the population there would be an exhibit in the visitor centre in Desertas Island (it could be replaced in case is needed so it would be sustainably managed).
Indirect Conservation icon Cooperation model
Model of working with zoos, used for other threatened wolf spiders in Madeira.

Conservation education
Raising awareness for the general public, show what EAZA zoos are doing for European invertebrates and conservation. Moreover, it would be a showcase on sustainable acquisition (applicable not only to this species).
Non Conservation icon Exhibit
Benefit to EAZA community. It is the world largest wolf spider as far as we are aware. Nice spider conservation showcase.

Programme numbers

In November 2020, the Desertas wolf spider EEP had 581 animals (including group counts) in 8 institutions.

Programme highlights

  • In March 2020 Mark Bushell spoke to the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) about the vital role that zoos play in saving desertas wolf spiders. The article is available here
  • EAZA published its 2021 Annual Report. On page 5 you can read about the activities of the Terrestial Invertebrate TAG in 2021.

Best Practice Guidelines


LIFE logo with white paddingThis work is supported by the European Union LIFE NGO funding programme. The European Union is not responsible for the views displayed in publications and/or in conjunction with the activities for which the grant is used.