Saving Flagship Species
ZSL is has a particular focus on conserving tigers, elephants and rhino, around which many of our field projects centre. It could be argued that we should not work to conserve just on these large attractive species, but should look after ecosystems in a more holistic manner.
In fact, conserving these flagship animals can be a very effective conservation method. The plight of these charismatic mammals raises public awareness about the dire need for conservation and enables us to raise funds for conservation work. Conserving them also effectively preserves wider ecosystems and biodiversity in the long run.
Animals such as tigers and elephants act as 'umbrella species', because they have large ranges and need igh-quality habitat. Through conserving viable populations of large mammals, we protect the other species that inhabit the same ecosystems. This also means that vital ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration are safeguarded.
Elephants play an integral role as ecological engineers, maintaining the structure and function of the ecosystems they inhabit, in addition to being important cultural symbols.
In Africa, ZSL’s elephant conservation work is focused on the mysterious African forest elephant in West and Central Africa .
In Asia, we have a long-standing conservation project for Asian elephants based in Thailand, where it is estimated that only around 3,000 elephants remain in the wild. In the future, we also hope to develop a project in Sri Lanka.
© E.F.Mansur & R.M.Mowgli Tigers are killed for their valuable skins and bones, while their forest habitats are being destroyed. Three tiger subspecies are already gone and another is probably extinct.
ZSL works in some of the last remaining tiger strongholds. In Indonesia , we work in Berbak National Park, a peat-swamp ecosystem containing a thriving population of Sumatran tigers.
In Bangladesh , ZSL is working with the Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh to conserve one of the largest remaining tiger populations in the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest.
In the temperate forests of the Russian Far East , that contains the largest remaining contiguous tiger population on Earth, ZSL is protecting tigers and monitoring their numbers.
In Africa, the black rhino is critically endangered, having suffered a catastrophic decline, both in numbers and in the extent of their range.
In Asia, poaching and habitat loss was combined with political instability and a collapse of infrastructure, leading to a significant population decline for the greater one-horned rhino in Nepal .
We also have a successful breeding programme for greater one horned rhino in ZSL Whipsnade Zoo .