The Wild Spaces programme of World Land Trust (WLT) offers zoos, aquariums and their associations an opportunity to help save wild creatures in their natural habitat by funding the purchase and protection of threatened habitat throughout WLT's project areas.
Zoos and aquariums play a vital role in biodiversity conservation by raising awareness of conservation issues, maintaining collections of endangered species and supporting conservation in the wild.
An exciting aspect of Wild Spaces is the collaboration between WLT and the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), who work in partnership to raise funds through BIAZA members and their visitors to support conservation in the wild.
In 2015 BIAZA and its members launched a new campaign to raise funds to purchase a property in northern Argentina. The fundraising target is £15,000 and BIAZA is inviting its members and corporate sponsors to support and promote the appeal.
The property of El Pantanoso lies between Calilegua National Park in the south and a large tract of sustainably managed forest in the north. Its location is significant because it protects a wildlife corridor for Jaguars and other threatened mammals ranging between the national park to the south and the forest to the north.
The purchase of El Pantanoso will save an important wildlife corridor. In addition, the acquisition is likely to leverage the protection of other neighbouring properties, which will safeguard a considerably larger area in the long run.
WLT and BIAZA have prioritised the purchase and protection of El Pantanoso on the recommendation of Fundación Biodiversidad-Argentina, one of WLT's conservation partners in Argentina.
This is an urgent appeal for funds because, if the property cannot be purchased for conservation, there is a very real threat that land will be cleared for agriculture and mining. Hunting could take place and there is also a risk that the land will be acquired for commercial logging.
The habitat is Yungas cloud forest, which is rich in biodiversity. El Pantanoso itself has not been logged for 35 years and there has been no hunting there for 15 years.
Jaguar (Panthera onca), Puma (Puma concolor), Margay (Leopardus wiedii), Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) and Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi) are all known to be present in El Pantanoso. The Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus) is likely to occur, but not yet confirmed. Other mammals of note include Lowland Tapir (Tapirus terrestris), Collared Peccary (Pecari tajacu), Ring-tailed Coati (Nasua nasua), Crab-eating Fox (Cerdocyon thous) and Brown Capuchin (Cebus apella).
Around 583 species of bird occur in the Yungas forest, ranging from the Black Solitary Eagle (Buteogallus solitarius) to the Speckled Hummingbird (Adelomyia melanogenys). The forest is also a centre for amphibian endemism.
During 2014 BIAZA and its members concentrated their fundraising efforts on protecting land in Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve in Central Mexico. To achieve this, BIAZA worked in partnership with WLT to enable Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda (GESG), WLT’s conservation partner in Mexico, to purchase land in urgent need of protection.
BIAZA’s initial target was £10,000 but by the end of the year, more than £23,000 had been raised. The funds were put towards extending Las Arenitas Reserve in the northern part of Sierra Gorda.
Sierra Gorda is an area of wonderful ecological diversity with an extraordinary range of vegetation including evergreen and deciduous tropical forest, shrubs and cacti, oak forests, pine forests and cloud forests. Sierra Gorda is home to more than 300 bird species and more than 100 mammal species such as Jaguars, Black Bears and Neotropical Otters.
Between 2007 and 2010, BIAZA members raised over £124,000 towards the purchase of 1,651 acres (668 hectares) of Atlantic forest, or Mata Atlântica. Known as the BIAZA Reserve, this property is now owned, protected and managed by WLT's project partner REGUA.
With only 7 per cent of the original Atlantic Forest remaining, the creation of the BIAZA Reserve is a great conservation success.
Following successful land purchase, the next phase of the programme was to ensure the future protection of the reserve. Between 2010 and 2012, BIAZA members donated towards funding two reserve rangers to protect the Guapi Assu Reserve.
BIAZA Keepers of the Wild was launched at the BIAZA AGM in June 2012. This programme supported rangers in four project areas, working through WLT's overseas partners in Brazil, Borneo, Armenia and Mexico. Funding was used to support full and part-time ranger salaries, uniforms and vital equipment until the end of 2013.
Reserve ranger, Abel Reséndiz, was supported by WLT's Keepers of the Wild programme. He works for our Mexico partner, GESG, to protect nature reserves in the remote wilds the Sierra Gorda mountain range. Abel no longer has to work as a migrant in the USA thanks to his first secure job with GESG. Abel said: "I feel proud of my work because we are protecting special places that were being destroyed or were under pressure from logging, ranching, frequent wildfires and poachers."
Funds raised through BIAZA Keepers of the Wild enabled ongoing and increased monitoring and protection for reserves already owned by WLT project partners. Rangers shared their photographs, stories and experiences in the field with BIAZA members through updates provided by WLT.
More information for Zoos and Aquariums
For more information about Wild Spaces and ways in which WLT can help you develop and achieve your conservation targets, please contact us.