BIAZA Buy an Acre News - June 2015

Welcome to the summer 2015 edition of the WLT-BIAZA eBulletin.

I was very lucky to meet many of you at the recent BIAZA Conference at Woburn Safari Park in June, and then to see some of you again at the BIAZA Parliamentary reception in July. At the conference I had an opportunity to speak about the ongoing relationship between WLT, BIAZA and its members. I also spoke about previous joint conservation initiatives and about the current project to save habitat and species in the Yungas forest of Argentina.

It was great to hear that so many BIAZA members are keen to get involved with the current project (El Pantanoso). Thank you to everyone who pledged support both at the conference and at the Parliamentary reception.

In this newsletter there is an update from El Pantanoso and an item about the extraordinary range of wildlife and biodiversity at the property.

Although this eBulletin is dedicated to the WLT-BIAZA joint projects, I'd like to mention that WLT works with other BIAZA members through our Wild Spaces programme. For example, Chessington Conservation Fund is supporting land purchase and protection in Ecuador, and Curraghs Wildlife Park is supporting land purchase in Colombia. There is news of both these donations in this bulletin.

In this edition we are proud to present long time supporter Shepreth Wildlife Park as our featured collection, Jaguarundi as our Featured Creature, an update on land purchase in Mexico and of course an update from Argentina.

We also highlight an article by Miranda Stevenson on conservation efforts to save the Buffy-tufted-ear Marmoset. Miranda will be well known to you as a former Director of BIAZA and now a Trustee of World Land Trust. 

I do hope you are inspired by the joint WLT-BIAZA conservation  work. Please do not hesitate to contact me directly if you have any queries or comments.

Wishing you a marvellous summer,


Kelly Jacobs, BIAZA Buy an Acre Project Manager for World Land Trust (WLT)

El Pantanoso: a biologist's dream

Bromeliad and forest, El Pantanoso. © Fundación Biodiversidad-Argentina.

In 2015, the focus for the joint WLT-BIAZA conservation project is El Pantanoso, a property of strategic and biological importance in the Yungas forest of South America.

“El Pantanoso is a laboratory open to the sky, a biologist’s dream. We don’t know what we will discover there!” said Obdulio Menghi, President of Fundación Biodiversidad-Argentina (FBA) during a visit to the Suffolk office of WLT. 

FBA is one of WLT's conservation partners in Argentina, and FBA staff are managing the purchase negotiations in consultation with WLT.

Obdulio describes himself as being constantly amazed by the range of wildlife at El Pantanoso. For example, just for the cats, trail cameras have captured images of at least six individual Jaguars moving through the reserve, as well as Puma, Ocelot, Jaguarundi and Margay.

The Yungas is an area of forest of exceptional biodiversity. “It is on a par with other great ecoregions of South America including Amazonia, Selva Paranaense and the Chaco,” said Obdulio. 

El Pantanoso is largely unexplored, incorporating several ecosystems at varying altitudes across an area of nearly 5,000 hectares, and new discoveries are likely.

The property lies in a transitional zone between the Andean highlands and the eastern forests. The climate is rainy, humid and warm and the rugged and varied terrain has been formed by fluvial valleys and mountain streams.

The vegetation comprises jungle foothills and mountain forests. The ancient evergreen forests of the Yungas are thought to be forest remnants dating from the quaternary glaciation.

Read more

Extreme weather damages cabins

View of El Pantanoso. © Tomas Waller

Measuring more than 10,000 acres (4,400 hectares), El Pantanoso lies in the Southern Andean Yungas ecoregion, an area of humid forest which stretches from south western Bolivia to north western Argentina.

Being extremely remote and with only limited infrastructure, El Pantanoso is a haven for wildlife. The current owner is very keen that the site be saved for conservation, but first phase funding needs to be in place for the purchase to go through.

In a recent communication, Tomas Waller, FBA’s Director of Conservation sent us this report: 

"Extreme rainfall during April/May provoked a mud landslide that partially destroyed the infrastructure. The main cabin was almost wiped out, while the other two smaller cabins suffered minor damage, according to Francesco Rocca, current owner of Pantanoso.

"We have not been able to visit the site to check personally the damage but we expect to do so whenever funds become available. In any case, the infrastructure was not too sophisticated (just three small wood cabins that might be rebuilt once we are established as the new owners of the property)."

Tomas will send more updates as they become available. 

More about El Pantanoso

Buy an Acre Mexico: update

Cerro Prieto Reserve. © Roberto Pedraza Ruiz.

In 2014, BIAZA members raised a magnificent £23,000 to extend Las Arenitas Reserve in Mexico's Sierra Gorda by 23 acres (9 hectares). BIAZA member Tayto Park continues to raise funds for land purchase in Sierra Gorda.

In Mexico WLT has an enduring partnership with Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda (GESG), which is committed to expanding its network of existing reserves when funding is available.

Earlier in 2015, WLT sent funds to GESG to extend Cerro Prieto-Cerro la Luz Reserve by another 86.5 acres (35 hectares). 

Roberto Pedraza, GESG’s Technical Officer described the significance of extending the reserve. “Expanding the reserve means protection for one of the wildest spots left in Sierra Gorda, where Jaguars regularly roam. It’s essential to still have uninterrupted forest landscapes, with no clearings, houses or roads. And it is just as important to keep out loggers who are always greedy and ready to chop down old growth trees for a few pesos.”

More about Buy an Acre Mexico

Featured Creature: Jaguarundi

Jaguarundi in El Pantanoso. © Francesco Rocca.

El Pantanoso is one of the few remaining sanctuaries for Jaguar in Argentina. It is also home to the lesser known Jaguarundi (Puma Yaguarundi) and trail cameras on the site have captured several images of the species, including the melanistic adult and juvenile pictured right.

Although usually terrestrial, Jaguarundis can climb trees. Unusually for wild cats, the species is diurnal and so it is one of the more commonly seen felids. 

The Jaguarundi is found in a variety of habitats, such as dry scrub, swamp, savanna and primary forest. The range of the species extends from the Western lowlands of Mexico all the way to Southern Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Current threats include habitat loss and fragmentation, usually from agriculture. They are sometimes victims of traps set for more commercially valuable species and, due to their tendency to prey on captive poultry, they are often shot by farmers.

Hunting Jaguarundis is illegal in most parts of the species’ range, including Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.

Featured Collection: Shepreth Wildlife Park

Shepreth Wildlife Park staff. © Shepreth Wildlife Park.

The wildlife park now known as Shepreth Wildlife Park was founded in 1979 as a private wild animal sanctuary and rescue centre by Terry Willers.

The first beneficiary was a young injured jackdaw (‘'Jack') and during the 1980s the Willers family adopted many other injured victims and hand-reared countless orphaned animals such as foxes, hedgehogs, squirrels, rabbits, deer, polecats, bats, monkeys, owls, kestrels, sparrowhawks, swans, doves, ducks and many other species.

In 1984 Terry Willers opened his home to the public and Willersmill Wildlife Park was born. During the 1990s the park became a home for unwanted and unlicensed pets and for exotic species from zoos that had closed down.

In 2001 the rescue centre changed its name to Shepreth Wildlife Park. Shepreth joined both BIAZA and EAZA (the European Association for Zoos and Aquariums) and today participates in the European endangered species programmes.

In 2011, the curator of the park alongside fellow conservationists, launched a conservation charity to raise awareness and funds for conservation initiatives worldwide. As well as raising funds for essential projects across the globe, Shepreth Wildlife Conservation Charity manages the Shepreth Hedgehog Hospital, rehabilitating and releasing hedgehogs back into the wild with post release monitoring.

In 2015 Shepreth Wildlife Park is concentrating its efforts on raising awareness and funds for the habitats of the animals it cares for at the park.

New interpretation will be displayed throughout the grounds, as well as two themed dioramas featured in the Tropical House, highlighting the beauty of forests of the past and the impact of destruction caused by man today.

Shepreth Wildlife Conservation Charity will be supporting this work through fundraising events, while staff of the park’s Education and Discovery Centre will educate visiting school groups (pictured above) about the effects of deforestation on wildlife. Shepreth has supported WLT-BIAZA conservation projects since 2008.

Read more

Other BIAZA member news: Chessington donates £25,000 to extend reserve in Ecuador

Nangaritza. © Nigel Simpson.

Chessington Conservation Fund (CCF) has agreed to fund an extension of the Nangaritza Reserve in southern Ecuador with a £25,000 donation to WLT.

The purchase will be carried out by Naturaleza y Cultura Ecuador, one of WLT’s partners in Ecuador.

In total CCF has donated £25,118 to safeguard the property. Purchasing the land was a priority in order to stop it being bought by silica and gold miners who would irreversibly damage the ecosystem.

Nangaritza is home to some of the highest levels of plant diversity in the world including, some fragile areas that have never been explored by scientists. The area is at risk of exploitation by illegal loggers and miners.

Read more

Other BIAZA member news: Curraghs Wildlife Park saves 20 acres of tropical forest in Colombia

Chocó forest in Colombia. © Fundación ProAves.

Curraghs Wildlife Park has saved 20 acres of tropical Choco forest in Colombia thanks to three donations to WLT.

The wildlife park made two donations of £500 to save forest in Colombia in 2014. A year later, in May 2015 the park made a further donation of £1,000.

Kathleen Graham, Curraghs General Manager, said: “We are a small wildlife park but now that we have raised £2,000 for Colombia, we are determined to meet our £5,000 target to save 50 acres in all. We are using the 50th Anniversary year of the Wildlife Park to highlight our efforts to purchase ‘50 acres for 50 years’.”

Read more

World Land Trust News

Conservationists rally to save the Buffy-tufted-ear Marmoset

Land purchase protects endangered bird of the Colombian rainforest

World’s rarest rabbit alive and well in Vietnam

Black Jaguar spotted in Ecuador

Black-and-chestnut Eagle nest found in Río Zuñac Reserve

First record of Gray Brocket Deer breeding in Barba Azul, Bolivia

More WLT news

WLT events