Staff from Chessington World of Adventures (CWA) returned to the UK inspired by a field trip to Ecuador where they saw for themselves how donations from Chessington Conservation Fund (CCF) are benefiting conservation.
After a 30 hour journey from London, Lisa Britton, Primate Supervisor at Chessington, and Colleen Ryan, Ride Team Leader, arrived in Loja in southern Ecuador.
From Loja it was another nine hour car journey to Cazaderos Reserve, where they met Keeper of the Wild, Guilbert Olaya, and colleagues from Naturaleza y Cultura Ecuador (NCEcuador), a conservation programme partner of World Land Trust.
Cazaderos lies in the Tumbesian forest. This lowland, tropical, dry forest has one of the highest concentrations of endemic bird species in South America, yet it is an area threatened by increasing forest clearance for growing crops, grazing livestock and logging for timber.
In 2012 CCF donated £12,800 to extend the Cazaderos Reserve by 128 acres in Ecuador (the same size as the area of CWA in England). Since 2013 CCF has been funding Guilbert to help protect that land through WLT’s Keepers of the Wild programme.
Dry forest biodiversity
Guilbert and his colleagues took Lisa and Colleen on a tour of the reserve, where they witnessed the biodiversity of the dry forest.
Lisa described the experience: “As we went deeper into the forest, this unique area showed us its beauty, from its endemic plant life to its wonderful small but brightly colourful frogs. Then in the extreme heat we finally heard the call of the Mantled Howler Monkey.”
They also travelled through a number of protected and unprotected areas on the way to Cazaderos, where the impact of deforestation was evident. “As we continued our journey, the habitat destruction became clearly visible, and we could see massive blocks on the mountainside where forest had been cleared,” Lisa explained.
Lisa Britton, Primate Supervisor at Chessington World of Adventures
Back in Britain, Lisa highlighted the importance of CCF’s support and the value of the field trip: “This area is considered one of the world’s highest biodiversity priorities, and it’s clear to see why people like Guilbert and his colleagues are so passionate about protecting the last remaining 5 per cent of the Tumbesian forest. It truly made me proud that Chessington World of Adventures Resort’s support for World Land Trust through CCF is used so effectively.”
Lisa and Colleen visited Ecuador in the last week of April. In addition to Cazaderos, they also visited NCEcuador Reserves at Nangaritza and Laipuna, both of which are supported by WLT. Their trip was wholly funded by CWA.