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Keeper of the Wild in Armenia

World Land Trust (WLT) thanks zoo keepers across the UK for supporting their fellow keepers working in some of the remotest areas of the planet to protect animals in the wild

Keepers of the Wild is successfully supporting more rangers to protect the nature reserves that WLT has helped create across the world.

This fundraising initiative is now set to achieve even greater protection for threatened habitats and wildlife thanks to support from zoos and aquariums across the UK.

The BIAZA Keepers of the Wild initiative was recently launched by WLT and the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), a professional body representing the best zoos and aquariums in Britain and Ireland.

Its aim is to raise funds to put more rangers in the field to carry out important conservation work, raise awareness about environmental issues within local communities, and protect threatened habitats and wildlife from illegal hunting and logging.

Orang-utan mother with baby

BIAZA Keepers of the Wild will help fund rangers to protect a wealth of wildlife, from Orang-utans in Borneo, to Brown Bears in Armenia and Jaguars in Mexico © HUTAN/Dzulirwan bin Takasi @Jolirwan

BIAZA member zoos and aquariums will be focusing their fundraising efforts on supporting keepers in Brazil, Borneo, Armenia, Mexico and Zambia. These keepers, also known as reserve rangers, are always employed from the communities surrounding the reserves to ensure that WLT’s conservation projects create secure jobs for local people.

BIAZA Zoo Biologist, Janine Robinson, said:

“We are thrilled to be launching the BIAZA Keepers of the Wild project in partnership with WLT. BIAZA zoos spend more than £13m on field conservation every year and this is one great example of how their work extends beyond the zoo grounds, by providing direct support to Keepers of the Wild.”

Past success: saving and protecting Atlantic Rainforest

BIAZA has been committed to supporting WLT’s conservation projects for five years; this began in 2007 when 25 BIAZA members raised over £124,000 to protect 1,651 acres of Atlantic Rainforest in Brazil.

The Atlantic Rainforest is an ecosystem more threatened than the Amazon Rainforest, with only seven per cent of the original forest cover surviving.

BIAZA reserve

This is the land the BIAZA members donated funds to so that REGUA could buy it for conservation © Alan Martin

WLT helps support the Guapi Assu Reserve in eastern Brazil, an 18,000 acre protected area that is owned and run by our partner REGUA (Reserva Ecológica de Guapiaçu Assu). Donations from BIAZA members helped REGUA extend the reserve and save more of this highly threatened habitat. Janine said:

“The BIAZA Reserve Project was a brilliant initiative because it allowed zoos and aquariums, who do not have the capacity for such a large conservation project, to become a part of a larger group of zoos collectively working together towards a cooperative conservation effort.”

BIAZA members went on to raise funds to help support rangers within the Guapi Assu Reserve, which is vital in ensuring the on-going protection of the habitat and wildlife from illegal logging and hunting.

REGUA rangers have reduced illegal hunting on the reserve by an estimated 98 per cent since 2001. This has only been achieved through their hard work and dedication; if REGUA could no longer fund their rangers, then the hunters would return. This demonstrates the importance of BIAZA members’ support, which has funded the salaries, uniforms and basic equipment of two rangers in 2011 and two rangers in 2012.

Now, through BIAZA Keepers of the Wild, members will be able to support rangers in five of WLT’s conservation projects across the world. This funding will help protect a wealth of threatened wildlife – from Endangered Orang-utans and Pygmy Elephants in Borneo, to Brown Bears in Armenia, and Jaguars in Mexico.

BIAZA Keepers of the Wild is giving zoo keepers across the UK the opportunity to work together to support the protection of threatened animals world-wide.

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