A big cat, a fig-loving bat and a monogamous monkey are just some of the species avoiding extinction thanks to the help of zoos, according to a recently published report by the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA).
BIAZA, which promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums, has compiled a list of the top ten mammals most reliant on zoos in the UK and Ireland. The Amur leopard, the Livingstone’s fruit bat and the San Martin titi monkey have all made it on to the list, which highlights some of the best examples of how zoos are safeguarding the future of our planet’s wildlife and their habitats.
Dr Marshall, who co-ordinated the compilation of the list with input from conservation experts based at BIAZA zoos, said: “Last year, BIAZA published a report on the top ten species most reliant on zoos which highlighted the work being done by zoos across all taxonomic groups to help safeguard their future. This year, we have focused on ten prevailing examples of mammals that zoos are working to save from extinction.
“It was a really tough choice this year as there were so many likely contenders, but we have some incredible species with amazing conservation stories. The Amur leopard was an obvious choice – with only around 50 wild leopards left their future depends on funding and direct field involvement of zoos, who are currently planning what will be the first big cat reintroduction using cats bred in zoos.
“The Grevy’s zebra is another species which was given a helping hand by the international zoo community recently. When an outbreak of anthrax threatened to wipe out many of the few remaining populations, a consortium of zoos acted rapidly to help fund and administer large-scale vaccinations of animals across northern Kenya, saving this species from the brink of extinction.
“The San Martin titi monkey also provides a brilliant example of zoos pulling together to protect species which are not actually held in captivity. Through research and provision of funding in Peru, a zoo-initiated project has been able to influence local Government policy and the designation of protected areas of this rare monkey’s habitat.”
Strict criteria was used to select the top ten. All the mammals proposed had to be associated with current field initiatives by zoos (‘in-situ conservation’) and listed as Endangered, Critically Endangered or Extinct in the Wild on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species™. Particular importance was given to initiatives which included a management role in the species’ conservation, rather than just providing funds and priority was also given to species conservation projects that include habitat protection, education and/or livelihood development.
Dr Marshall added: “Modern zoos are evolving and improving rapidly and increasingly are acting as the driving forces behind major conservation, research and education initiatives. We want our visitors to know that in visiting their zoo they are not simply enjoying a great day out, but are contributing to an ever-increasing conservation effort.”
BIAZA’s top ten mammals most reliant on zoos are:
Oné of the most endangered large cats in the world with less than 50 individuals remaining in the wild.
This Critically Endangered mammal is restricted to a very small area of around 2,700km² in northwest Madagascar and only a small total population remains.
The Scimitar-horned oryx is Extinct in the Wild, so completely dependent on captive breeding for survival.
There are only 300 – 400 Sumatran tigers remaining in the wild.
This Critically Endangered primate is not kept in zoos, but BIAZA zoos are important partners in the only conservation initiative working to protect this species.
This endangered equid has experienced one of the largest reductions of range and numbers of any African mammal.
One of the largest bat species in the world with less than 1,100 individuals remaining in the wild.
The most Endangered Amazonian primate found in a very small region of the Brazilian rainforest.
Listed as one of the 25 Most Endangered Primates in the World. Only 15% of their original habitat remains.
The Western lowland gorilla is under threat of extinction from specialist hunting and habitat loss.
Next year’s report will focus on the top ten reptiles and amphibians most reliant on zoos
(Source: BIAZA press release, 14.08.2013)