Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, 17 April 2011: Today Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort (AWPR) hosted the culmination of a series of Species Re-introduction Specialist Group Workshops at the park’s Education Centre. Spanned over three days, the workshops brought together leading experts from around the world to explore the impact of climate change on species conservation and breeding programmes – placing AWPR at the centre of an important global initiative.
Also held in 2010, these workshops are part of a global collaboration between AWPR, the Re-introduction Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission and the Invasive Species Specialist Group. Looking to develop worldwide theories regarding animal re-introduction, the international task force supported by AWPR and chaired by Dr Mark Stanley Price of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, is leading on the development of new international guidelines on the movement of species that will eventually be used as a conservation tool for responding to climate change.
Dr Michael Maunder, Chief Conservation Strategy Development of AWPR said,
“We are honored to be engaged in such a significant initiative and to be hosting the Re-Introduction Workshops at our very own Education Centre here in Al Ain. As climates and ecologies change, many species face increased risks of extinction. Thus, as conservationists, we are confronted with complex challenge – do we accept the extinction of a species as its last habitat changes, or do we actively respond to this threat by trying to restore the habitat or more controversially by moving the species out of its historical range to new habitats? These are some of the questions that have been driving our discussions and findings in the workshops.”
In addition to Dr Price of Oxford University and Dr Maunder at AWPR, specialists who participated in the workshops included esteemed experts such as Dr Axel Moehrenschlager, Head of the Centre for Conservation Research at Calgary Zoological Society in Canada, Dr Peter Hollingsworth, Head of Genetics and Conservation at the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, and Dr Piero Genovesi, Chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Invasive Species Specialist Group and Senior Conservation Officer of the Institute for Environmental Protection and Research in Italy, among others.
AWPR’s support in this global endeavor is an example of the institution’s unwavering commitment to developing leading conservation and breeding programmes for the world’s most prized species. In addition to their involvement in the Re-introduction Workshops, AWPR has set up a number of other strategic partnerships with leading conservation agencies and associations from across the world, including a 20-year exclusive agreement with San Diego Zoological Society, which will be instrumental in the development of all project aspects, especially those related to the wildlife. Other strategic partners include the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, the Zoological Society of Scotland (Edinburgh Zoo), the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria (WAZA), the Northern Rangelands Trust of Kenya and the Sahara Conservation Fund.
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