Chagossian community visit to ZSL London Zoo
Wednesday 24 August 2011
On the 23rd August, ZSL hosted a group of 70 Chagossians from Crawley for a family picnic and day out at ZSL London Zoo.
The day started with a short introductory talk on ZSL’s marine conservation projects by Dr Heather Koldewey, Head of Global Conservation Programmes. Heather and Rachel Jones, Aquarium Team Leader, then led a series of smaller groups behind the scenes of the Aquarium where they were able to see our breeding programmes for corals, seahorses and many other endangered aquatic species.
At the end of the day, Heather said ‘In spite of the rain, we had a really enjoyable day with Chagossians of all ages interested and engaged in our marine conservation work. We hope this is just the start of a number of collaborative initiatives with the Chagossian community to build the marine conservation awareness and capacity that is so important considering the extraordinary marine biodiversity in the Chagos archipelago’. President Allen Vincatassin, of the Provisional Government of Diego Garcia & Chagos Islands (in waiting), said ‘ I am delighted that the ZSL has been able to organise such a visit, which I believe was educative and creating an awareness in our people. I look forward to working with ZSL to protect the rich biodiversity of Chagos together with my people’.
ZSL is part of the Chagos Environment Network (CEN), a group of ten leading conservation and scientific organisations seeking to protect the rich biodiversity of the Chagos Islands and its surrounding waters. The goal of the CEN is to support efforts to ensure that the globally important natural environment of the Chagos Marine Reserve is conserved as a unique and valuable resource for present and future generations. The CEN aims to encourage and, where possible, assist the UK Government and other relevant institutions in the development of a robust, integrated long term conservation framework for the marine reserve.