ZSL secures three Darwin Initiative grants
Tuesday 25 March 2003
The Zoological Society of London is pleased to announce that three Darwin Initiative grants have been awarded to ZSL scientists in the current round of funding
The three projects that have been awarded grants are for conservation of rhino's in Kenya, the investigation of disease threats to native birds in the Galapagos and for training Mongolians in conservation methods.
The Darwin Initiative is a small grants programme that aims to promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of resources in less developed countries. The Initiative is funded and administered by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Building capacity for conservation of critically endangered flagship species
Kenya is the stronghold of the Critically Endangered eastern black rhino (Diceros bicornis michaeli) and currently conserves over 85% of the remaining 500 animals of this subspecies. The black rhino is Kenya's flagship species in their conservation efforts, and the 5-year Black Rhino Strategy drawn up by Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) has been given highest priority to the biological management of this species. Under the UK Darwin Initiative, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) will give specific training to all field staff on rhino monitoring, from field data collection, data analysis, to end-reporting. Procedures will also be put in place locally to assess black rhino habitat carrying capacity in order to assist in developing new viable populations and to manage existing rhino sanctuaries.
Dr Rajan Amin, from ZSL's Institute of Zoology, commented "Receiving Darwin funding is fantastic news for the staff of the Kenyan Wildlife Service, and for Kenya's endangered rhinos. Kenya is a country rich in biodiversity but poor in financial resources and this funding will allow KWS to put its ambitious strategy on rhino conservation into action. This UK Darwin Initiative funding will be a significant boost to ensure sustainable conservation of Kenyan biodiversity into the future."
This ZSL led Darwin project, in partnership with the African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG) of the IUCN's Species Survival Commission, and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) will build in-country Kenyan technical capacity to effectively and sustainably run the necessary rhino monitoring, habitat assessment, and biological management decision-making aspects of the Kenyan rhino conservation programme.
Building capacity and determining disease threats to endemic Galapagos fauna
Disease threats pose a significant risk to the conservation of biodiversity. Endemic species can suffer when diseases spread from related domestic animals, while globalisation and climate change increase the risk of contact with new kinds of disease hosts or vectors.
Endemic island species are particularly vulnerable to introduced diseases, in the past several native Hawaiian bird species have become extinct as the result of introduced pathogens. In this project ZSL will be setting up a wildlife pathology laboratory in the Galapagos and establishing a disease monitoring program for native fauna in collaboration with the Galapagos National Park, Charles Darwin Research Station, University of St. Louis and St. Louis Zoo, USA.
As well as providing a valuable research resource for the international scientific community, it is an important contribution to the conservation of the unique wildlife of the Galapagos and to help Ecuador meet the aims of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The funding will provide the infrastructure and training necessary for Ecuadorian scientists to identify and respond to disease threats to native Galapagos fauna into the future. The monitoring program will provide an early warning system that will allow scientists to deal with any disease outbreaks or novel introduced pathogens before they can pose a serious danger to the archipelagos wildlife
Speaking about the new funding, Dr Simon Goodman, from ZSL's Institute of Zoology commented, "I am tremendously excited to receive this funding from the Darwin Initiative, which will be an important boost to conservation efforts in the Galapagos, particularly for the islands' native birds. The money will fund infrastructure and training that will allow scientists from the Ecuadorian National Park service to identify and manage disease threats to the unique wildlife of the Galapagos into the future."
The Steppe Forward Programme: Training Conservationists for Mongolia's Future
The Steppe Forward Programme aims to empower Mongolians to create and manage conservation programmes by providing them with the tools necessary to design and monitor their own conservation initiatives, assess wildlife populations and design ecological studies.
Informal consultation with local communities in south Gobi has been carried out over three years by the project leader, who is known and trusted by herders in this area.
Commenting on the project, Dr Kate Oddie from ZSL said, "Our aim for the project is to encourage Mongolians to form their own conservation initiatives and we hope the first scheduled community meeting will serve as a forum for herders to express their concerns and identify priority areas for action."
The direct impact will be to address the need for training in ecology, to allow biodiversity assessment and protection in the host country. This will be achieved through field courses in ecological research and conservation for undergraduates and park rangers, and careers courses to teach how to source and obtain funding to implement research and conservation projects. Indirectly, the project will enhance the capacity for Mongolia to meet biodiversity obligations through understanding of wildlife population biology, species distributions and ecosystem threats. Basic biodiversity data will be collected on field courses and also by involving local community members to collect simple observational data following training.
The project is in partnership with the Zoological Society of London, Mongolian National University (MNU) and Ministry of Nature and Environment (MNE)
About the Zoological Society of London
Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity focusing on conservation of animals and their habitats. ZSL runs London Zoo and Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, and together with its scientific research is actively involved in world-wide field conservation and carries out scientific research through the Institute of Zoology as well as being actively involved in field conservation.
For further information about the Zoological Society of London and the Institute of Zoology please contact Jacqueline Ray Jacqueline.firstname.lastname@example.org on 020 7449 6236
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