- Monday, 20 August 2012 14:13
Good zoos are now powerful forces for conservation and some of the world’s most extraordinary species would not be surviving without them! Flamingo Land’s Director of Conservation, Dr Andrew Marshall, has played the lead role in creating a list of the top ten species most reliant on zoos.
The work was carried out on behalf of the British and Irish Association for Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), which promotes the value of good zoos and aquariums. The top ten list includes species on the very brink of extinction including two that are close to our hearts at Flamingo Land. The Scimitar-horned Oryx, now extinct in the wild, is thriving at Flamingo Land, where we reared yet another calf this year. Verdcourt’s Polyalthia tree is also on the list, an endangered plant from Tanzania, protected as part of Flamingo Land’s forest conservation initiative, the Udzungwa Forest Project.
This list highlights ten examples of how zoos are working to save endangered animals and many other species from extinction. Without the valuable conservation and breeding work of our member zoos and aquariums, many ‘at risk’ species may be lost to extinction forever.
Choosing just ten species was no easy task. BIAZA member zoos were first asked to vote and the BIAZA Field Program Committee then debated to produce the final list. Particular importance was given to projects which included management input and fieldwork, rather than just providing funds. Species could only be considered if listed as Endangered, Critically Endangered or Extinct in the Wild on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List. Priority was also given to species conservation projects that included habitat, education and human components.
Dr Marshall said: “The top ten list of species most reliant on zoos shows the importance of zoos not only in conservation breeding for populations and reintroductions, but in the role they play in conservation in the wild from fund-raising to research, education and support for local communities, as well as wildlife habitats.”
BIAZA’s top ten species most reliant on zoos are:
- Mountain chicken – one of the world’s largest frog species and critically endangered.
- White-clawed crayfish – around 95% of the population of Britain’s only native freshwater crayfish have been lost.
- Blue-crowned laughing thrush – only 250 mature birds of this Chinese species left in the wild.
- Amur leopard – fewer than 45 of these big cats left in the wild.
- Potosi pupfish – this freshwater fish is extinct in the wild.
- Partula snail – twelve species of Partula snail are extinct in the wild.
- Verdcourt's polyalthia tree – this endangered species has only been found in three locations in the Kilombero valley in Tanzania.
- Blue-eyed black lemur – this lemur is critically endangered due to large scale habitat loss and hunting.
- Ploughshare tortoise – one of the most sought after tortoises on the illegal pet trade market.
- Scimitar-horned oryx – extinct in the wild and dependent on conservation breeding.