While the Egur-Yeil Institute and Department of Wildlife Biology regularly undertakes its own research missions and initiatives, we are sparingly asked to investigate circumstances that beyond local ability. In 612 A.T. the Reign of Corvus—through their Achran—contacted the Institute and subsequently the Department regarding an issue of a local species “disappearing”, likely presumed extinct. The matter was confined to a particular planet-star but the local shani and others in the Reign could not figure out why this was the case.
Once we unloaded our ship and established some temporary residence on Pryzerva near the largest city, we were able to establish network connection for contact with the Institute, as well as with the Achran of the Reign. We soon found that this method of contact with the Achran to be problematic, as it drew the ire of locals. After consultation with the Achran and the local shani, we were to contact the Achran through the local authority if we needed continued contact, but were to otherwise exist on our own or receive limited assistance from the local shani.
Preliminary investigation determined that this would be a long term project in several phases, unless an objective verifiable cause for the extinction or “disappearance” of the taruciil locally was established.
First would be to identify shifts in geography or other climate based disturbances that could explain the extinction such as water temperature differences that made the area inhospitable, a new fork in a river that diverted either the taruciil or some other part of the food chain, or similar events. As we needed to examine a full seasonal cycle this would take at least a year.
Secondly—though we determined this process could be investigated concurrently, in order to not contaminate our data we resolved to complete the first investigation before moving on—we would investigate the food chain itself for problems. An overpopulation or shortage of either predators, prey, or a combination could lead to extinction.
Finally is the technique of conservation management. While we are slowly becoming familiar with this process brought to our attention by our avoc peers in the field, we will be able to communicate with the Institute for consultation if this technique is necessary. It involves comparing records of hunts from season to season across many years to see if local influence is the reason behind extinction.
Much of the time on each day during this initial planning phase was establishing supply lines, routes, and dates for regular deliveries of molten material to our researchers. Additionally, it took us several days to get used to navigating the terrain—we were purposefully situated outside the local settlement as to disturb local culture and practices minimally to their benefit and ours—and it was entirely unlike terrain in Parallelium. Even the flatlands featured constant jagged rocks and abrupt changes in elevation. For efficiency, our dropzone for molten material was not a sea, but as flat of a clearing as we could find for a vertical ship.
Rather than describe in detail our investigation from contemporaneous notes, best practice was determined to be a description of what each of the first two processes found, and why each was considered not to have an objective finding, thus leading us to each succeeding step.
By Evtuvas of 614 we had determined that there were no seasonal or geographic abnormalities that evidence could be found of. No new diversions of any water features could be found that indicated the taruciil, their prey, or predators had diverted to another region on the planet-star, nor could we find indication in soil samples, river sediment readings, tree rings, or other natural demarcations of change that would indicate any smaller-scale change that would render the habitat inhospitable for either the taruciil or its prey.
In shorter order we believed we had eliminated a food chain issue as the reason for extinction. By late-614 we determined from comparative samples of the current population size and distribution of the four species of fish that locals could identify as prey for taruciil that there was no shortage of fish for the taruciil. When comparing numbers of these current populations with estimates based on volume of water, biodiversity, water temperature, and available vegetation we concluded that these populations were in healthy ranges.
Our report now reflects that there was no longer a shortage of these fish. Again, in communication with the local shani population we discovered that there is no natural fauna predation of the taruciil—they are at the top of their respective aquatic food chain—and that it is the shani that prey on them alone for their shells and meat. Though there are no records to support their claim—or refute it—local hunters maintain they did not hunt more taruciil for either meat or shells before their disappearance.
Our last form of investigation was conservation management. As previously mentioned, there were no records locally of how many taruciil or fish were hunted in a given season or year, no records of how many were seen at any point annually, monthly, or daily—all important and fundamental factors in this practice—so outside council was sought from avocs through our contact with the Institute.
It was established by the Achran of the Reign through contact with local shani throughout the Reign that we would travel the Reign’s planet-stars for an additional two and a half years, spending two seasons each across six planet-stars to observe hunting patterns of fish and taruciil. At each of our locations the shani knew of the “disappearance” of taruciil on Pryzerva, and had anecdotal observations on the situation. By the end of our travel in Toscuvas 617 we had no conclusions based on the data that had been gathered.
It was from our conversations with shani across the Reign that we had discovered a likely culprit, and a return to Pryzerva before meeting with the Achran to discuss our findings was scheduled. The same shani were interviewed again nearly four years after our initial research began, however with more information from surrounding planet-stars we were able to explore and eventually validate a hypothesis.
One disastrous cooling season in 608 was the eventual cause of the extinction, where the shani were left with only fish to hunt – this case ended up starving out the taruciil by the end of the following cold season. It was however the result of improper conservation efforts—not called such by shani, but undertaken across other planet-stars in the Reign—that directly led to the species’ extinction. The preceding cold and hot seasons left other animals that shani hunt in the forests and highlands respectively at such low populations that they were hard to find. This would leave the shani of Pryzerva to hunt exclusively fish in this cooling season.
The hypothesis was confirmed by the local shani in our interviews undertaken in 619, despite not having mentioned any irregularities in the hunting patterns around the time of the taruciil’s local extinction. We shared our findings in a meeting with the Achran in Apuvas of the same year as well as the recommendation from the Institute—after reviewing our data, methodology, and findings—that a total of two dozen taruciil be exported from surrounding planet-stars with healthy populations and be allowed to repopulate Pryzerva’s waters for eight years without hunting.