Wildlife conservation at ZSL

Our vision for the future is a world where wildlife thrives - a more balanced, connected and vibrant world where people and wildlife live better together.

Achieving this represents one of the greatest challenges humanity faces. ZSL’s role is to develop solutions that help people and wildlife live better together, whilst driving the recovery of species and habitats.

Our approach is to put cutting-edge conservation science into practice to drive innovation for wildlife recovery. 

By shining a light on the causes and effects of biodiversity loss, we can deepen our understanding and knowledge of the living world; find new and better routes to recovery and empower global efforts to achieve lasting, positive change for life everywhere.

Our priorities

We are ZSL - a powerful movement of conservationists


Our conservation priorities and framework

We have four key conservation priorities where we can impact the biodiversity and climate crisis:

Protecting species

Climate change and human activity are pushing species to the brink of extinction and beyond. Each potential loss is vital. Our environment is moving towards collapse. We have to act now.

We aim to enable a step change in the recovery of species, from developing the science to training a generation of conservationists and restoring some of the most threatened species in the world, starting with those that are extinct in the wild, where zoos hold the last remaining individuals in their hands.

For instance, we’re working to build knowledge and give training to the right people to empower them in the fight to stop the illegal wildlife trade - the world’s fourth most lucrative trafficking industry after drugs, humans and weapons - in more than 50 countries around the world. 

Protecting species: our goals

By 2030 we will drive measurable, evidence-based steps towards global recovery for at least 40 highly threatened species for which we have the expertise to contribute to long-term, holistic conservation.

  1. Successful conservation interventions: We will coordinate or partner in both in-situ and ex-situ actions that make a demonstrable contribution to the avoided extinction or recovery of highly threatened species.
  2. Evidence to action: We will build the knowledge base required for successful conservation, communicate this evidence and facilitate its use to recover highly threatened species.
  3. Capacity building: We will increase the knowledge and skills of both internal staff/students and external stakeholders to recover highly threatened species.

Protecting species: key projects

  • A close up image of a purple frog
    Protecting animals on the EDGE

    Animals on the EDGE of Existence

    Our EDGE of Existence programme is the only conservation programme in the world to focus on animals that are both Evolutionarily Distinct (ED) and Globally Endangered (GE).

  • Sumatran tiger in Sembilang National Park
    Protecting the rarest tiger species

    Sumatran tiger conservation

    We’re working at the cutting-edge of conservation to protect Sumatran tigers and other endangered tigers in Asia.

  • Black rhino among zebras in Kenya
    Protecting wildlife in Kenya

    Kenya Conservation Work

    We’re working in the field and behind-the-scenes in Kenya to help overcome the threats facing some of the country’s most threatened species. 

  • A family of cheetah in Tanzania sitting together
    Fewer than 7,000 remain

    Cheetah conservation in Africa

    In the field and behind the scenes, we’re working at the cutting-edge to help overcome the threats facing endangered cheetahs in Africa and support the recovery of this Vulnerable species.  

  • wild_camel_standing_in_desert_in_Mongolia
    One of the most endangered large mammals on the planet

    Conservation of Mongolia’s Wild Camels

    The critically endangered wild camel survives only in Mongolia and China.

  • Two angel sharks on the ocean floor
    Under threat from fishing and habitat degradation

    Angel Shark Conservation

    We’re working at the cutting edge of conservation to protect angel sharks and create practical routes to their recovery.

  • Mountain chicken frog sitting on forest floor
    Restoring mountain chicken populations

    Mountain chicken frog conservation

    Creating routes to recovery through cutting-edge scientific research and breeding at London Zoo.

  • Pangolin standing in a savannah habitat
    Turning the tide on the illegal wildlife trade

    Pangolin conservation

    Pangolins are the most illegally trafficked mammals in the world, and some species are on the brink of extinction.

  • Protecting species

While we support the recovery of well-known species such as tigers, much of our work focuses on underrepresented species. The EDGE of Existence programme highlights and protects some of the most unique and wonderful species on the planet. These species represent an irreplaceable part of the world’s natural heritage, yet an alarming proportion is on the verge of extinction and overlooked by mainstream conservation. 

Find out more about our work protecting species

Partula suturalis on leaf
Scimitar-Horned Oryx

Restoring ecosystems

Life in all its diversity supports our world, but the pressure on our planet is growing - from habitat loss, over-exploitation, climate change and pollution. 

The focus for experts here at ZSL is to first support local partners and communities to protect remaining vital spaces for wildlife and then restore degraded ecosystems.   

Conservation technology plays a major role in our monitoring of protected areas and species, and ZSL is at the forefront of developing and applying cutting-edge technical solutions to improve our conservation impact.

Learn more about how we restore ecosystems 

Oysters covering a surface like a mosaic
Aerial view of mangrove forest and river

Restoring ecosystems: key projects

  • Two people planting mangrove trees as part of ZSL restoration project.
    Reviving dreamlike coastal jungles

    Restoring mangroves

    Our projects in the Philippines have restored and protected over 900 hectares of abandoned fishpond mangroves - around the size of 1,260 football pitches.

  • Ducie sharks swimming in the ocean above coral
    We're protecting marine habitats of UK Overseas Territories

    Great British Oceans

    The UK is responsible for the fifth largest area of ocean in the world, twice the size of India and nearly 30 times the size of the UK itself!

  • Male hihi close-up black head with a white streak, and yellow streaks along body
    Bringing hihi back from the brink of extinction

    Hihi conservation

    How this tiny bird is helping reframe wildlife conservation translocation programmes globally.

  • group of seals taken on the 2017 Thames Seal Survey
    Support our Thames conservation work

    Thames Conservation

    The River Thames is not only a busy urban waterway but is also home to a fascinating and often unexpected array of wildlife.

  • Olive white-eye bird
    Saving the rarest bird in Mauritius

    Olive white-eye conservation

    With less than 150 pairs now remaining, our work is saving a species on the brink of extinction.

  • Two men with fishing nets on boats in Lake Ossa Wildlife Reserve
    Where habitats collide

    Douala-Edéa and Lake Ossa Wildlife Reserves – Cameroon

    Douala remains one of the last opportunities to conserve a large expanse of African coastal wildlands and wild waters.

  • chagos reef
    Investigating complex marine ecosystems

    Indian Ocean Marine Science

    We're collborating to protect the Indian Ocean, with 121 peer-reviewed papers have been generated between 2017-2021 from the research in the region.

  • oysters_in_water
    Rebuilding the foundation of British marine life

    Native oysters restored to UK waters

    We're working across the UK to restore native oysters, which clean our oceans and form reefs to support marine life.

  • Restoring ecosystems
Restoring ecosystems: our goals

Drive the science and practice of species and ecosystem protection and restoration to improve the status and resilience of at least 10 ecosystems to global environmental change by 2030.

  1. Improve effectiveness of protected and conserved areas to reduce anthropogenic degradation across 10 focal ecosystems by 2030.
  2. Enhance the functioning of 10 priority ecosystems to reduce their risk of collapse.
  3. Develop the science and practice to ensure that nature-based solutions equally benefit biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  4. Enhance ecosystem connectivity across 10 major landscapes and aquascapes.

Living with wildlife

Communities are vital to the future of conservation and the recovery of wildlife. Equally, conservation must be fair, equitable and just for the people living in the areas we seek to support. 

girl with goat
ZSL KELOLA Sendang Project

We work closely with communities on the ground here in the UK and around the world, to develop new sources of income and reduce conflict with wildlife; moving towards positive models of co-existence. 

Find out more about our work empowering communities to lead wildlife recovery

Living with wildlife: our goals

We want to support wildlife recovery to become part of community practice in 10 priority ecosystems by 2030, with a goal to reach at least 10,000 households and support scalable models of community action for conservation. We will:

  1. Support the establishment or effective delivery of conservation goals within inclusive and equitable conserved areas in 10 priority ecosystems providing connectivity across different forms of habitat use.
  2. Reach 10,000 households to improve their wellbeing and livelihoods through locally relevant and sustainable mechanisms increasing positive engagement with wildlife recovery.
  3. Develop sustainable co-existence between local communities across 10 priority ecosystems and the high-impact species with which they share their environments.
  4. Work with communities to reduce pressures from unsustainable or illegal harvesting for 20 key threatened species across 10 priority ecosystems.

Living with wildlife: key projects

  • ZSL conservationist chatting with locals in Dja faunal reserve
    Protecting a UNESCO World Heritage Site

    Dja conservation complex

    In the dense forests of the Dja faunal reserve, people have been living together with wildlife for thousands of years. We're empowering local people to protect their home and the wildlife they live alongside.

  • Asian elephant browsing
    A future with wildlife

    Pangolin, tiger and Asian elephant conservation in Thailand

    We're helping people and wildlife thrive together, through working closely with local communities to mitigate human-wildlife conflict and stop the illegal wildlife trade.

  • Sperm whale in the Wash
    Understanding strandings

    UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP)

    The Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP) coordinates the investigation of all cetaceans, marine turtles and basking sharks that strand around the UK coastline. 

  • tailor in India with sewing machine
    Saving wildlife starts with people

    Mitigating Human Wildlife Conflict

    We're enabling people and wildlife to coexist, by protecting crops, livestock and people from wildlife, and by working for connectivity conservation.

  • Two people seen from behind walking along the shore of a beach in Mozambique
    Our Sea Our Life - Tackling unsustainable fishing practices

    Our Sea Our Life - Tackling unsustainable fishing practices

    Working with communities to establish more sustainable fishing practices.

  • Two men shake hands in front of livestock in Niger
    For life everywhere

    Experts demonstrate how putting communities at the centre of decision making is key to saving wildlife in Africa

    Our study shows how protecting threatened species such as cheetah and African wild dogs needs an integrated approach, with support for local communities at its core.

  • Straw coloured bat hanging beneath a large leaf
    Leading research on viruses found in bats

    Understanding bats and disease

    Bats make up 22% of all mammals, and their unique immune response which enables them to remain healthy despite carrying viruses that would cause serious disease in people and other mammals.

  • Tope shark
    Under threat from fishing and habitat degradation

    Project SIARC

    We’re working at the cutting edge of conservation to protect angel sharks and create practical routes to their recovery.

  • Living with wildife

Inspiring change 

As pioneering change-makers for more than 200 years, our wildlife conservation work has a huge impact - not just locally in the lab or in the field, but on the political and corporate stage too. 

Change requires that biodiversity becomes embedded at the heart of all decision-making from the personal decisions we make as individuals, to the actions of companies and the decisions made by governments. 

indonesian project team member
thames lens picking

Our experts inspire school and community groups; support companies to reduce impacts of their businesses, and advise governments on the importance of nature to address some of the major challenges faced by society. We have focussed on reaching socially dis-advantaged groups, pioneered novel financial tools for nature and supported increased transparency for industries and developed global indicators to track biodiversity change.

Find out more about how we are inspiring change at the highest level

Inspiring change: our goals

We will engage 10 million people, £1 billion of private sector capital and assets and influence 10 Government and 20 business policy processes to drive the systemic change needed for global biodiversity recovery.

  1. Individual behaviour: 5m people will have taken decisions to reduce their personal impacts
    on the environment and support wildlife comeback within their communities.
  2. Community behaviour: Through behaviour change initiatives in the UK and
    globally, our programmes will have reached at least 500k people driving community-led wildlife monitoring, reductions in direct pressures on wildlife and pro-wildlife investment.
  3. Corporate behaviour: through expert advice and monitoring, we will have engaged 20 private sector entities collectively representing over £100m in capital and assets thus reducing negative impacts and driving forward positive restoration actions led by the corporate sector.
  4. Government behaviour: Our global evidence base will be used to inform 10 national and 5 international policy processes to support wildlife recovery.

Inspiring change: key projects

  • Badger between two trees
    Badger vaccination

    Badger vaccination

    We're working to change public attitudes towards badgers and their spread of TB

  • Looking up at forest trees Gabon
    Business and wildlife working together

    Sustainable Business and Finance

    We're working at all levels, from producers to buyers and investors, to achieve supply chain transparency and integrate biodiversity impact into decision-making.

  • thames lens picking
    The importance of Nature-based Solutions

    Putting Nature at the heart of global decision making

    The connection between climate breakdown and biodiversity loss is now better understood, and there's growing agreement that both crises must be tackled in unity.

  • soapbox science display
    Championing female & non-binary scientists

    Soapbox Science

    Soapbox Science brings cutting-edge science to the public on the streets, highlighting the work of some of the best women and non-binary scientists working today.

  • A fish with a plastic bottle in the ocean
    Help us protect our oceans


    Our campaign to make London free of single-use plastic water bottles.

  • Knepp estate four horses grazing
    Understanding impacts of long-standing UK rewilding project

    Space Observation of Knepp Estate Nature Recovery

    Our conservation scientists have led ground-breaking research using satellites to understand the impacts of a long-standing UK rewilding project which has seen key species and native vegetation return. 

  • volunteers with binoculars
    Volunteer with us!

    Get involved

    Become a citizen scientist and join us in our fight for wildlife.

  • Inspiring change
Help us make our vision of a thriving natural world a reality

Together, we have the power to make a difference. Please donate today.