Top 5 Achievements From ZSL Conservation Projects This Year

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Top 5 Achievements From ZSL Conservation Projects This Year


As we approach 2022, we thought we would share some of our incredible achievements over the past year from the 2021 Annual Report. The support from our members enables us to continue our vital conservation work globally.

1. No Black Rhinos were poached in Kenya

This year we launched the UK Aid Match project in Kenya's Tsavo West National Park, home to Critically Endangered black rhinos. ZSL works closely with local partners Tsavo Trust and the Kenya Wildlife Service to support the monitoring and protection of the country's largest remaining black rhino population. For the first time in over two decades, Kenya celebrated zero rhinos poached and the birth of twelve calves during the 20-21 financial year.

Critically Endangered Black Rhino

2. Cutting-edge thermal Elephant detection system to reduce human-wildlife conflict

After three years of research involving our Asian elephants at Whipsnade Zoo, we have developed a practical and low-cost means of detecting and reporting the presence of elephants. Our conservationists and zookeepers have taught software to recognise elephants with 90% certainty at 30m away, and then alert community members and response teams. Our next steps include teaching the software to recognise other animals - such as giraffes and rhinos - at our Zoos and trial the software in the field. This could have a huge impact on managing human-wildlife conflict.

 Thermal Elephant detection at Whipsande Zoo

3. Breakthrough U-turn in UK Government badger-culling policy

ZSL's Professor Rosie Woodroffe was instrumental in conducting the research that empowered the Government decision this year to transition national policy from badger culling to badger vaccination. The UK Government's bovine tuberculosis (bTB) control policy entailed widespread killing of badgers, creating the potential for both welfare issues and wider ecological impacts. Woodroffe will continue to oversee ZSL's field research programme evaluating badger vaccination as an alternative means to culling for controlling bTB.

Cornwall Badger Project

4. We're restoring native wildlife to the UK

ZSL launched the UK's first Wild Oysters partnership to restore native oysters to UK waters and bring them back from the brink of extinction. We established the Wild Oysters Project with Blue Marine Foundation and British Marine, with funding from The Dream Fund, we have already installed 96 oyster nurseries. Other reintroduction projects this year include the release of sand lizards to Merseyside and corncrakes in Norfolk. We also continue to monitor the health of other species released in recent years including the chequered skipper butterfly, pool frog, common European adder, red kite, hen harrier, white-tailed eagle and hazel dormouse.

Native Oysters Nursery Signage

5. We've safeguarded 184 threatened species in our Zoos

Within our two Zoos we contribute to international breeding programmes and share expertise in animal care and healthcare to safeguard over 620 species, 184 of these species fall under the threatened status. This year our keepers supported the delivery of a series of webinars on enrichments, husbandry and conservation breeding. One example is ZSL's management of the European and global breeding programmes for Sumatran tigers and the collaboration with the Action Indonesia global breeding programmes.

 Close up of Sumatran Tiger

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