BIAZA Buy an Acre News: June/July 2014

Welcome to the latest BIAZA Buy an Acre update from World Land Trust (WLT) in partnership with the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA).

The really exciting news of the summer is that we have met our initial target of £10,000 in only six months towards the purchase of vital wildlife habitat in Mexico, but please don’t stop fundraising! We have set a new target for the project of £20,000, and if the second half of the year is anything like the first half, this won’t be a problem! There are more details below, and we are looking forward to announcing the final total raised after the end of the year.

Some of you may have seen me when I travelled to Yorkshire Wildlife Park in early June, or at the BIAZA Parliamentary Reception in July. If you are supporting BIAZA Buy an Acre and haven’t yet had the opportunity to meet me then please do get in touch.

When I visited Doncaster for the BIAZA AGM I spoke about the ongoing partnership between BIAZA and World Land Trust and our current project to raise funds to purchase and protect land in Mexico’s Sierra Gorda.

Bill Oddie, Ambassador for WLT, and Love Your Zoo champion, also spoke at the AGM, when he reflected on his personal journey that has led to his support of ‘good zoos’. The annual awards dinner raffle raised £400 towards BIAZA Buy an Acre, so thank you to everyone who bought a ticket.

As always, keep on sending us news and images of your fundraising events and activities. We will feature as many as we can in future updates.


BIAZA Buy an Acre Project Manager for World Land Trust


BIAZA Buy an Acre appeal tops £10,000

WLT-BIAZA Buy an Acre logo.

After just six months, members of BIAZA have met their target to raise £10,000 to help purchase and protect threatened wildlife habitat in Mexico.

To mark World Ranger Day on 31 July, BIAZA pledged to raise another £10,000 by the end of the year, which will secure a total of 200 acres of forest.

BIAZA’s Buy an Acre campaign was launched in February in partnership with World Land Trust (WLT) to help protect habitat and species in Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve in Central Mexico.

Money raised will be used by WLT’s partner in Mexico, Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda (GESG), to fund the purchase of privately owned land within this wonderfully ecologically diverse biosphere reserve.

Roberto Pedraza is GESG’s Technical Officer. He said: "On behalf of the wildlife of Sierra Gorda, I would like to thank BIAZA, its members and the public that supports their Buy an Acre campaign. Their solidarity and support are very much appreciated.”

BIAZA Programmes and Policy Coordinator, Nicky Needham, said: “This is a fantastic result in just six months and we are urging our members to keep up their efforts to raise another £10,000 by the end of 2014. By pulling together to save this precious habitat, BIAZA members are achieving a really significant conservation goal and we are looking forward to raising even more funds for this exciting project.”

More about this story »


Jaguar close encounter

In early July Roberto Pedraza, GESG’s Technical Officer, sent this report from Las Arenitas, a reserve that has benefited from BIAZA Buy an Acre donations.

It has been an incredibly wet year in Sierra Gorda in 2014, with continuous downpours. This means that tracks are much easier to find.

Leonel is the ranger in charge of three reserves - Las Arenitas, Tinaja and La Hierbabuena. In the past two weeks on every surveillance trip he has found fresh Jaguar tracks, including a just made cake (scat). On one occasion, he had an ‘almost encounter’. He spotted Jaguar tracks and sensed and heard the big cat moving through the bush, breaking branches and bushes.


More about BIAZA Buy an Acre support for Las Arenitas »


Magnolia species new to science found in Sierra Gorda

Three new species of magnolia have been discovered in Sierra Gorda thanks to Roberto Pedraza of GESG and one of the new species has been named after him!

Roberto is delighted by the discoveries. “To find three new tree species in central Mexico, where supposedly everything has been labelled, is quite outstanding,” he said.

“Magnolias are living fossils and the first flower plants on the planet,” he explains. “They are amazing trees! Micro-endemic and new to science. We are so proud to be protecting the only places in the world where they are found.”

Pictured, Roberto with one of the three new species, Magnolia rzedowskii (after Dr Jerry Rzedowsky, the leading botanist in Mexico).


More about this discovery »


BIAZA Member of the Month: Beale Park

Thanks to the generosity of its visitors, Beale Park has donated £1,000 to BIAZA Buy an Acre.

An active member of BIAZA since 2008, Beale Park has been a regular and generous donor to BIAZA-WLT projects since 2010.

Beale Park raises funds for conservation from its visitors through the Feed for Conservation initiative, which encourages visitors to purchase seed to feed the waterfowl for a 20p donation, from bird feeders located in the park.

Dave Coles, Park Curator, describes Beale Park’s commitment to conservation: “We currently manage seven initiatives in-house, but support many others by contributing with a combination of practical support and funding; enabling us to extend our conservation drive to encompass a wider variety of wildlife on a local and international scale.”

Kelly Jacobs is WLT’s BIAZA Buy an Acre Project Manager. She said: “Beale Park is a loyal supporter of World Land Trust’s partnership projects with BIAZA. Beale Park’s recent generous donation of £1,000 has been very helpful in enabling BIAZA to meet a first phase target of £10,000 target to purchase and protect 100 acres of forest in Mexico’s Sierra Gorda.”

Pictured above: Beale Park representatives present a cheque for £1,000 to BIAZA. From left to right: Bill Oddie, Dave Coles (Park Curator), Nicky Needham (BIAZA Programmes and Policy Coordinator), Richard Howard (Director of Trustees at Beale Park), and Chelsea Ford (Animal Keeper).

More about Beale Park »


Featured Creature: Margay

Sierra Gorda is home to all six species of wild cat found in Mexico. Among them is the Margay(Leopardus wiedii) also known as the Tree Ocelot.

The Margay is a small and solitary wild cat (weighing an average of 3.3 kg) found in the tropical lowlands of Mexico and southwards through Central America, the Amazon basin, southern Brazil and Paraguay.

Thought to be more arboreal than other cat species, the Margay makes its home in forest and wooded areas, feeding on small mammals, birds and reptiles.

Pictured above is Nina, a Margay kitten photographed by Roberto Pedraza. The kitten was rescued from a house where she was found tied up.

Roberto said: “As she was so young we knew we were not able to release her back to the forest straight away, so we reared her for a few months. First we fed her with milk and kitten food, then after a while some dead mice and then some alive ones. She never became tame at all; she liked me because I was the 'food-guy', but she was always ferocious in her own way.”

When he was confident that she could survive in the wild, Roberto released Nina in one of Sierra Gorda’s cloud forest reserves.

In general the numbers of Margay are declining. Historically the Margay was hunted for its spotted pelt. Today, it is threatened by loss of its forest habitat, road kills, retaliatory persecution (it preys on domestic poultry) and, in some areas, disease. The illegal fur trade may also still pose a threat. Listed by IUCN as Near Threatened, the species is likely to qualify for Vulnerable status in the near future.


More about Nina »

More about the Margay »


BIAZA Buy an Acre Action Pack

The BIAZA Buy an Acre Action Pack 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.


Action Pack and more information from BIAZA »


World Land Trust News

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


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