“It was a big Christmas surprise”, says Dr Gerald Dick, Executive Director of WAZA, “that finally our WAZA branded conservation project package in support of 5 threatened species has been accepted by the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund. Those 5 small grants enable the projects to conduct essential work in a time when it is not easy to get funds for species conservation – we are happy to be able to contribute to biodiversity conservation through our WAZA members.”
WAZA, as the official partner organization of the Convention on Biological Diversity during 2010 UN Year of Biodiversity has undertaken a survey of zoo related conservation projects, published in the International Zoo Yearbook 2010 and subsequently asked its members to provide small grant proposals for projects in urgent need for funds. The provided funds will now help those projects to bridge gaps and continue the important work for threatened species.
The 5 WAZA branded conservation projects are:
Cat Ba Langur (Trachypithecus p. poliocephalus), Vietnam (Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project and Allwetterzoo Muenster, Germany). Global population currently c. 60-70 individuals. Current IUCN status: Critically Endangered. By the year 2000, poaching had reduced this species to only 53 individuals in several isolated sub-populations and the Cat Ba langur became listed by the IUCN as one of the world’s most endangered primate species. The Cat Ba Langur Conservation Project (CBLCP) in Vietnam will establish an education program and conservation clubs at the local schools to increase the awareness and understanding of the Cat Ba Langur and the nature of Cat Ba Island.
Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli), Nigeria (Wildlife Conservation Society).
With fewer than 300 remaining Cross River gorillas are now regarded as critically endangered and as the most threatened taxon of ape in Africa. The project aims to reduce the threats faced by gorillas in the Mbe Mountains by training nine hunters in snail farming. By providing hunters with an alternative means of livelihood we hope to reduce levels of hunting and encourage local participation in protecting this unique gorilla species.
Przewalski’s horse (Equus ferus przewalskii), Mongolia (International Takhi Group and Wildnispark Zürich). It went extinct in the wild, the species survived due to a carefully designed captive breeding program. With the success of the captive breeding program came the objective to produce animals for reintroduction in the wild and one of the selected sites was Takhin Tal at the north-eastern corner of the Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area. As of December 2009, 138 Przewalski’s horses in 12 harems and 2-4 bachelor groups roamed the Great Gobi B SPA. The aim of the project is to achieve a detailed documentation and analysis of the factors that lead to the massive die off in the re-introduced Przewalski’s horse population in the extreme weather, called “dzud” in winter 2009/10. The primary products of this 3 day workshop will be 1) a common understanding of all people involved in the conservation and management of Przewalski’s horses in Takhin Tal, 2) a detailed report that describes the losses in the wild- and domestic hoofed mammals as well as the management actions taken, 3) recommendations on how to prepare or act in future dzud situations.
Tenkile or Scott’s Tree Kangaroo (Dendrolagus scottae), Papua New Guinea (Tenkile Conservation Alliance, Zoos Victoria). It was already on the brink of extinction. A hunting moratorium was established and has grown to now include 18 Tenkile villages and 21 Weimang villages‐which totals approximately 10,000 people. The Weimang (or Golden‐mantled Tree Kangaroo) is found in the same area and like the Tenkile is also classified as critically endangered by the IUCN (IUCN red‐list 2008). Hunting has lead to the decline of all animals in this area due to the human population trebling in the past 50 years. The influence of the western world has meant the removal of traditional practices in culture and hunting. Previously people hunted with spears and bows and arrows and had special spiritual areas, called ples masalai, where people never ventured to. Since the 1950’s local people have had access to guns and torches thus removing fauna at a very high rate. The project aims for providing alternative protein source, through the purchase of young fish, fingerlings, and the constructions of cement ponds in order to further promote fishfarming.
Siamese Crocodile (Crocodylus siamensis), Indonesia (IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group, Cologne Zoo). This critically endangered species occurring in the Mesangat-Kenohan Suwi wetlands seems to represent a unique population in Borneo in a unique habitat. Only scarce information is available on the status and distribution of the Siamese crocodile in Kalimantan. Therefore the project should be an initial investigation and a pilot project in the region in order to attract other sponsors and conservation activities.
More details about the WAZA projects and implementing organizations can be found at http://www.waza.org/ (conservation/projects).