BIAZA Buy an Acre News: April/May 2014

Welcome to the latest update from BIAZA's conservation partner World Land Trust (WLT).

We've all had a busy time in the past couple of months!

In April BIAZA staff trotted their socks off in a Chilli Challenge to raise funds to buy a BIAZA camera-trap for Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda (GESG), our partner in Mexico.

Purchasing and protecting land in Sierra Gorda is the focus for BIAZA's fundraising initiative in 2014 (BIAZA Buy an Acre). The camera is already in place and is, hopefully, even now capturing exciting images of elusive wildlife in Sierra Gorda for BIAZA members.

In May Roberto Pedraza, Technical Director of GESG, was in London for WLT's 25th Anniversary Partners Symposium at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. During the event he spoke on camera about the importance of land purchase for conservation and expressed his appreciation for the support of BIAZA members.

At a reception during the symposium, BIAZA staff presented the camera-trap to Roberto, who gave thanks in person.

We can also now confirm that BIAZA Buy an Acre donations will be used to help fund an extension to Las Arenitas reserve in the remote north of Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve. There's more about the reserve in this newsletter.

Thank you to all those members who have been busy raising funds in different ways including through special events, by selling bird feed, soft drinks and bottles of water, or giving a proportion of takings during Love Your Zoo week.

This update features Tayto Park in Ireland who have set themselves an ambitious fundraising target. We wish them well.

BIAZA members have already raised more than £6,000 towards the initial Buy an Acre target of £10,000, which is a great result after just a few months of fundraising. Don’t forget to let us know how you raised your donation so that we can feature your collection in a future issue!

Keep on sending us news and images of your fundraising events and activities. We will feature as many as we can in future updates. You can contact me at


BIAZA Buy an Acre Project Manager for World Land Trust


WLT and BIAZA are ‘wonderful allies’, says WLT’s conservation partner in Mexico

WLT-BIAZA Buy an Acre logo.

In a video interview, Roberto Pedraza, Technical Director of Grupo Ecologico Sierra Gorda (GESG), has thanked WLT and BIAZA for their support.

WLT has supported land purchase in Sierra Gorda in central Mexico since 2007 and has worked in partnership with BIAZA since 2006.

In 2014 BIAZA and WLT launched a new initiative - BIAZA Buy an Acre - to raise funds to purchase and protect more properties in Mexico.

“Purchasing high biological sites and devoting them to conservation is really a very effective tool,” said Roberto. “I’m so grateful on behalf the Sierra Gorda wildlife to find such wonderful allies.”

Roberto was in London for WLT’s 25th Anniversary Symposium in May 2014. During his visit he spoke on camera about his appreciation for WLT and BIAZA.

View the video »


BIAZA donations will fund extension to Las Arenitas Reserve

Group picture of the cheque handover at PWP. © PWP.

WLT has confirmed that donations from BIAZA members will be used to fund 100 acres of an important property that has long been a priority for GESG.

In total the Sierra Gorda property measures 435 acres (176 hectares) and will extend Las Arenitas, a reserve created with funds from WLT in 2007.

Roberto Pedraza, GESG’s Technical Director, heard last year that the property might be coming on to the market, and in February 2014 he contacted WLT to say that the owners had decided to sell.

Roberto is delighted that WLT has agreed to fund the purchase with support from BIAZA: “That property has long been a goal, as it is old growth forest in excellent shape, bordering Las Arenitas."

Las Arenitas lies in an area of the mountain range that is known to be a ‘Jaguar corridor’.


Roberto Pedraza receives BIAZA camera-trap

Camera-trap image of Puma in Sierra Gorda, Mexico. © GESG.

BIAZA staff have presented Roberto Pedraza of GESG with a camera-trap to record images of Sierra Gorda’s wildlife.

Funds to buy the camera-trap were donated by BIAZA staff who organised a fundraising Chilli Challenge in April.

Roberto has been monitoring Jaguars and Pumas in Sierra Gorda for three years and has high hopes of capturing images of big cats to share with BIAZA and its members.

“We know where are the favourite places for Jaguars and Pumas so it should be quite easy to get new images. We just need the tool, so it is so nice to have the new camera trap,” he said.

Roberto was in London for WLT's 25th Anniversary Partners Symposium. The presentation was made during an evening reception on 8 May. Pictured above from left to right, Kirsten Pullen (BIAZA Chief Executive), Roberto Pedraza (GESG) and Nicky Needham (BIAZA Programmes and Policy Coordinator).

The fundraising Chilli Challenge took place on 3 April 2014. At Kew Gardens the team photographed a Cocoa Tree (Theobroma cacao) as well as species of agave and cactus. At London Zoo, the Chilli Challengers discovered Hidden Pupfish (Cyprinodon esconditus), Axolotl (Ambystoma velasci), Blue Spiny Lizard (Sceloporus serrifer) and a King Vulture (Sarcoramphus papa). At Battersea Park Children's Zoo, a BIAZA member collection, the team posed for photos with a coati.

“After nine hours, seven blisters, 21km, four cocktails, one new pair of flipflops, one free plate of quesadillas and many new friends we discovered that London is a kinder place if you're wearing a sombrero!” said BIAZA's Nicky Needham, who came up with the Chilli Challenge fundraising idea.


BIAZA Buy an Acre donations top £6,000

Camera-trap image of Puma in Sierra Gorda, Mexico. © GESG.

Donations from BIAZA members have already passed £6,000, which is remarkable considering the initiative was only launched in February.

To assist members' fundraising efforts, WLT and BIAZA have prepared an Action Pack, which is available on BIAZA's website.

Included in the pack is information about the biodiversity of Sierra Gorda and other resources including a poster, banner, logos, images and a QR code to link zoo animal interpretation to information about the project.

Once the BIAZA camera-trap images come on line, there will be plenty of opportunities to use the pictures to promote the campaign.

Action Pack and more information from BIAZA »


BIAZA Member of the Month: Tayto Park

Caucasian Leopard. © Misad /

Staff at Tayto Park in County Meath, Ireland, have responded enthusiastically to BIAZA Buy an Acre.

“Several of the species in Tayto Park’s collection can be found in the wild in Mexico, and the species will clearly benefit from this in-situ conservation initiative,” explains Jessica Harley, Education Programme Manager, who is coordinating the promotion of BIAZA Buy an Acre at Tayto Park.

“In very simple terms this promotion bridges the gap between ex-situ and in-situ conservation and enables us to connect the animals in our collection to those in the wild. Our rangers and tour guides will help reinforce this message, and the public talks will do a great deal to educate our visitors and encourage them to donate,” said Jessica.

Donation collection boxes and large signs publicising BIAZA Buy an Acre have been placed next to enclosures, and Tayto Park’s visitor map also mentions the fundraising initiative.

The signs feature animals at Tayto Park that are also found in Mexico. Staff are also using the initiative to inform visitors about species that will be added to the collection in future. “Jaguars feature in Tayto Park’s collection plan for 2014, so it is a great way to introduce our visitors to their native habitat before they even arrive,” explains Jessica.

Tayto Park has set itself a fundraising target of €10,000 (some £8,000) for BIAZA Buy an Acre, and is planning special events and activities to attract visitors and donations.

“This is our most ambitious fundraising effort to date. We all feel very strongly about this conservation programme and want to participate for the long term. Staff will also get involved in raising funds via running, cycling and adventure races,” said Jessica.


Featured Creature: Jaguar

Camera-trap image of Puma in Sierra Gorda, Mexico. © GESG.

The Jaguar (Panthera onca) is the largest and most iconic cat of Central and South America.

Jaguars are wide ranging and require large protected areas in which to roam, which makes GESG's strategy to extend existing reserves all the more important.

Las Arenitas, the reserve supported by donations from BIAZA members, is known to form part of a Jaguar corridor, and rangers frequently find Jaguar tracks in the reserve.

During a recent routine visit to repair fences on the southern border of Las Arenitas, GESG's Roberto Pedraza came across a fresh Jaguar kill. “We were wandering through the bush when we come to an open area where we found fresh Jaguar tracks, at most one day old. We’ve found tracks before but it’s always nice to find new ones.”

But nicer still, close by was a happy meeting of about 50 Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura), busily diving in the forest. They were snacking on the remains of the Jaguar’s kill.

"We were quite sure he was nearby taking care of his lunch. Quite exciting to think he was going to come back for another meal,” Roberto recalls. “It is good to see close up that the reserves are working as they are intended to, and offering human-free spaces for wildlife.”

Camera-traps are essential for monitoring these elusive creatures. Pictured is a camera-trap image of a Jaguar taken some years ago in Sierra Gorda. We are looking forward to receiving new Jaguar images courtesy of the BIAZA camera-trap before too long.


World Land Trust News: Celebrating 25 years of conservation

Camera-trap image of Puma in Sierra Gorda, Mexico. © GESG.

World Land Trust (WLT) celebrated a milestone when Sir David Attenborough joined special guests in central London to celebrate the Trust’s 25th Anniversary on 6 May 2014.

Sir David is one of WLT’s Patrons. In his opening address he described why he fully supports WLT’s conservation model of protecting whole ecosystems through land purchase and protection.

He stressed that WLT raises fund to buy land, but that ownership rests with local organisations. He emphasised how vitally important it is that the land saved belongs to the people in that country, and that they take on the responsibility of protecting it with support from WLT.

“WLT is always on hand to give assistance and advice when called upon, and helps overseas partners with the protection of their endangered wildlife by sending funds to employ rangers,” he said.

WLT's overseas partners also voiced their support for WLT during WLT’s 25th Anniversary Partners Symposium at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in May 2014.

During the symposium, WLT’s partners expressed their willingness to work more closely together within WLT's Conservation Alliance to further their common conservation objectives.

Meanwhile WLT staff are busy organising a summer fundraising campaign.

We shall be launching the campaign towards the end of June and we’re certain that it will have widespread appeal, particularly to garden lovers.

The campaign will encourage small donations (£2.50 on average), and the campaign’s success will depend on it reaching a large number of donors.

To make sure the campaign attracts widespread public interest we shall be relying on our own social networks and those of our supporters. So when the campaign launches, please do all you can to spread the word.

Summer fundraising campaign »

More news from World Land Trust »