BIAZA Buy an Acre News

The latest update from World Land Trust (WLT) in partnership with the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA)

We are delighted to report that BIAZA members have now raised more than £17,000 for BIAZA Buy an Acre. This means that our £20,000 target is in sight - but please don't stop fundraising! It will be a great achievement if BIAZA can raise £20,000 by the end of the year and we remain optimistic that we shall meet the target.

The continuing efforts of BIAZA members to raise funds for land purchase in Mexico’s Sierra Gorda are heartening, and in this edition of BIAZA Buy an Acre News we feature some inspiring fundraising initiatives. We also hear from Banham Zoo's Mike Woolham about the important role zoos are playing in conservation.

Roberto Pedraza, Technical Officer of Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda (GESG), our partner organisation in Mexico, is monitoring the BIAZA camera-trap, which has been positioned in a remote part of Sierra Gorda. In this update we can reveal that the camera has recorded a Jaguar - but only its tail! More on this below.

We are also pleased to report that Martha "Pati" Ruiz Corzo, the Director of GESG, has won the Wangari Maathai Prize. You can read more about Pati and her achievements below.

Meanwhile our featured creature is the weird and wonderful Mexican Axolotl, one of BIAZA’s top ten amphibian and reptile species benefiting from zoos.

As always, please 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

November 2014

The tale of the Jaguar's tail

Camera-trap image showing Jaguar rear.  © GESG.

Back in April staff of BIAZA stepped out in their sombreros to raise funds to buy a camera-trap to record images of wildlife in Sierra Gorda.

The camera was presented to Roberto Pedraza of GESG at a reception held during WLT's 25th Anniversary Partners Symposium in May. For some months now the camera has been in position in a remote part of Sierra Gorda and we have been waiting hopefully for some exciting pictures.

From time to time camera-traps record startlingly magnificent images. At other times, camera-trap images can be tantalising, frustrating and even downright disappointing in terms of their picture quality. But, despite the blurriness of the creature pictured on the left hand side of the image, it does nonetheless show the tail end of a Jaguar in the area of Las Arenitas, the land purchase that BIAZA members have helped support. 

Blackpool Zoo mountaineers reach new heights

The mountaineering team from Blackpool Zoo. © Samantha Barkess.

Staff from Blackpool Zoo lead by Samantha Barkess, now at Knowsley Safari Park, completed the famous Three Peaks Challenge in aid of BIAZA Buy an Acre and WLT in July 2014.

Samantha said: “It was one of the hardest things I have done, but I am so delighted we completed it and raised money and awareness for World Land Trust. The funds raised will help towards the purchase and permanent protection of the rainforests and other wildlife habitats that are crucial for the survival of endangered species.”

The team raised more than £700 for BIAZA Buy an Acre, and more than £900 for World Land Trust’s Action Fund.

Read more

Alcorn’s Tropical World raises £1,700 for BIAZA Buy an Acre

Ring-tailed Lemurs investigate Love Your Zoo signs during Love Your Zoo week 2014. © Alcorn's Tropical World.

Alcorn’s Tropical World in County Donegal, Ireland, has donated in the region of £1,700 to BIAZA Buy an Acre to help raise funds to purchase and protect land in Mexico’s Sierra Gorda.

Alcorn’s Tropical World raised funds for BIAZA Buy an Acre during Love Your Zoo week earlier in the year. During the week, Alcorn’s donated half of all admission fees to the campaign.

Alcorn’s Head Keeper Tanya Jacob explains: ”We are not a huge collection but we are delighted to feel part of a bigger community of organisations who by working together can really make a difference.”

Read more

Banham Zoo's Mike Woolham talks to Bill Oddie about the role of zoos in conservation

Bill Oddie poses for the camera with staff of Banham Zoo. © WLT.

Banham Zoo recently hosted a visit from Bill Oddie, one of WLT’ss Council members. During his visit Bill quizzed Mike Woolham, Banham Zoo's Animal Manager, about the role of zoos in conservation.

During their meeting, which was filmed for WLT's YouTube channel, Mike told Bill that animals in zoos are ambassadors for their wild counterparts and that the prospect of doing nothing to save the wild world is too awful to contemplate.

“It’ss a horrifying thought that in a hundred years’s time - if we don’t do anything - some of these species are not going to be here. It’s a horrible legacy to leave to future generations. They will look back and say why didn’t you do anything?“

Banham Zoo has been supporting WLT for about seven years. During that time Banham has donated some £14,000 to WLT’s partnership conservation projects with British & Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA). Banham is currently supporting BIAZA Buy an Acre.

Watch the film of Mike's meeting with Bill

GESG Director wins 2014 Wangari Maathai Prize

Martha "Pati" Ruiz Corzo. © Roberto Pedraza.

GESG's founder-director, Martha "Pati" Ruiz Corzo has won the Wangari Maathai Prize, awarded by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. The award recognises her pioneering work to preserve forests and alleviate rural poverty in the Sierra Gorda.

Pati is a pioneer of rural community projects. Under her leadership, since 1997 GESG has delivered an intensive programme of conservation education and training for local communities in Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, one of the most ecologically diverse areas of Mexico. Thanks to her inspired direction, Sierra Gorda is today a flagship for public-private ecosystem management.

Hundreds of local families benefit from a ’payment for ecosystem services’ programme and receive financial compensation for conserving and replanting trees on their land, which in turn saves habitats by preserving local watersheds and reducing soil erosion.

Read more

Featured creature: Axolotl

Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum). © Roberto Pedraza.

Mexico's Sierra Gorda, where BIAZA members are helping to purchase and protect land for conservation, is home to some of the last remaining populations of Mexican Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum), which are registered by IUCN as Critically Endangered in the wild.

Roberto Pedraza monitors wildlife in Sierra Gorda and has recorded Axolotls in the biosphere reserve.

On one occasion he told us: “We went in search of Axolotl in another creek in the highlands. And we found lots of them, in a single pond 15 big ones and babies included. There were different characters, from a mighty bull to more motherly faced ladies and even a local Dracula. As you know, this is an endemic-endangered species, so very nice to find such a healthy population and to take photos of them.“ Although the place was completely without protection, the owner of the land was keen to conserve them.

The Axolotl is a salamander that spends its life in water. Through a quirk of nature it is neotenous, that is, it retains juvenile traits even into adulthood. While other amphibians undergo metamorphosis from egg to larva, and finally to adulthood (that is, from tadpole to frog), the Axolotl remains in its larval form throughout its life. In extremely rare cases, an Axolotl will progress to maturity and emerge from the water, but these individuals are short lived.

Usually about 9 inches long when full grown, the Axolotl keeps its tadpole-like dorsal fin which runs along its body, and its endearing feathery gills which protrude from the back of the head.

Due to the importance of the Axolotl in scientific research, they are no longer collected from the wild and large numbers are bred in captivity. Research focuses on their amazing healing and regenerative abilities. Few animals have the capacity to re-grow a lost limb but Axolotls can.

Read more about the Axolotl

Thank you to our donors

BIAZA Buy an Acre roundel.

We are very grateful to the following BIAZA members who have donated or pledged to donate to BIAZA Buy an Acre: Amazona Zoo, Banham Zoo (Zoological Society of East Anglia), Beale Park, Bournemouth Oceanarium, Drayton Manor Park, Northumberland College (Kirkley Hall), Paradise Wildlife Park, Shepreth Wildlife Conservation Charity, Tayto Park, Tropical World at Alcorns, West Midlands Safari Park.

Other BIAZA members are contributing to BIAZA Buy an Acre by stocking Drink Natural bottled drinks in their catering outlets (more on this below).

We are also grateful to the following individual and corporate donors who have supported the appeal: Ken Sims, Bryan Carroll, Chris Redstone, the team from Blackpool Zoo and BIAZA supporter Natural Drink.

Proceeds from the BIAZA AGM raffle have also been donated to BIAZA Buy an Acre.

Drink Natural: corporate supporter of BIAZA Buy an Acre

Drink Natural products.

Drink Natural has donated more than £3,000 to BIAZA Buy an Acre as the result of its partnership with BIAZA which began in 2013.

Drink Natural has developed a charitable range of juices to support BIAZA and raise valuable funds for the protection of habitat.

Drink Natural is currently donating:10p for every case of 12 units of Wild Water and Wild Juice and 20p for every case of 12 units of Orange Juice & Apple Juice supplied to BIAZA members.

We encourage all BIAZA members to consider stocking these products in your catering  outlets.

For more information please contact the BIAZA communications office: email

More about Drink Natural

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

Big cat portraits for Big Cat Appeal

Big Cat Appeal: aiming to raise £500,000

Appeal target reached for land purchase in Atlantic forest of Brazil

Expansion of Canandé Reserve helps save more Chocó forest

International forum highlights urgent need for Caucasian Leopard conservation

Jaguar, Spectacled Bear and Baird’s Tapir benefit from 1,772 acres of Colombian rainforest saved

Keepers of the Wild are key to Jaguar conservation

Human death toll reflects urgent need to protect tiger corridor

Newly protected property is ’salamander and tree frog heaven’

Colombia’s Cotton-top Tamarin Reserve is safe haven for critically endangered primates

Field trip to Cazaderos inspires Chessington staff