BIAZA considers field (in situ) conservation to be the most important activity for saving the planet's biodiversity and BIAZA members assist with in situ conservation activities in a number of ways:
Developing, managing and supporting field conservation projects
Raising and donating funds to field conservation projects
Supplying experienced staff and essential equipment for species and habitat conservation
Providing valuable husbandry and management skills, learned through captive management of species
Implementing local education and conservation awareness programmes in developing countries
Providing practical experience for field biologists and vets to train with animals in a captive setting
The assistance from zoos has provided invaluable support for a vast number of field-based conservation activities. For example, conservationists working in the Russian Far East have been able to monitor wild Amur leopard populations, by developing novel techniques with zoo leopards. Procedures to safely anaesthetize these animals have been developed and radio collars can now be fitted using information gathered on the size and biology of captive leopards. This allows essential monitoring of this critically endangered species which could not have been possible without access to captive populations. In addition to this, 61% of NGO funds for Sumatran tiger conservation between 1998 and 2005 have come from or through (in the form of grants obtained) zoos.
BIAZA members support a vast number of conservation projects both nationally and internationally. Chester Zoo’s Assam Haathi Project is a community-based approach to helping people in Assam (Northeast India) live safely alongside wild elephants and The Hawk Conservancy Trust has been working with BirdLife South Africa to investigate and monitor breeding numbers, breeding distribution and foraging behaviour of the African White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus in relation to land use practices around Kimberley, South Africa (for more examples see conservation projects).
BIAZA members also provide significant support to native species conservation. Since 1991 Dudley Zoo has worked with Natural England to conserve the threatened barberry carpet moth Pareulype berberata and since 2001, Paignton Zoo Environmental Park has co-ordinated the national breeding programme for the Hazel dormouse, Muscardinus avellanarius, namely the Common Dormouse Captive Breeders’ Group (CDCBG) in liaison with Natural England, as part of the Hazel Dormouse Recovery Programme and Biodiversity Action Plan. The Wildwood Trust, Kent are responsible for managing the studbook for this charismatic species on behalf of the CDCBG. The BIAZA Native Species Working Group drives forward native species conservation work and seeks to improve zoo management for native species (more information).
BIAZA members also support conservation campaigns, ranging from large scale fundraising initiatives, to raising awareness about specific issues or lobbying government. Each year BIAZA supports EAZA’s annual campaigns, which over the years have included Shellshock (turtles, tortoises and terrapins), Save the Rhinos, the Madagascar Campaign, European Carnivores and the Ape Campaign. The Association is currently supporting the Pole to Pole campaign, which is a joint EAZA/Arctic Action Team (AAT) Campaign, launched in 2013.
In 2006, BIAZA partnered with the World Land Trust in order to offer its members an opportunity to participate in a collaborative field conservation project in Brazil. BIAZA and its members have collectively raised enough money to buy 1,700 acres of threatened wildlife habitat in the Atlantic rainforest, and are contributing to ongoing research, protection and management of this area (more information).