Conservation work being carried out by a number of BIAZA members in Madagascar have recently received royal endorsement when the Princess Royal visited their projects during a tour of the island in October.
The Princess Royal started her visit at two field stations inside the Sahamalaza Iles Radama National Park which are being used to carry out vital work to help save Madagascar’s threatened lemur population. The research stations are supported by the Bristol Zoological Society (Bristol Zoo) and the Zoological Society of East Anglia (Banham Zoo and Africa Alive). Both organisations belong to a consortium made up of 30 other European zoos helping to safeguard the future of Madagascar’s lemurs on behalf of the AEECL – the Lemur Conservation Association. The AEECL’s flagship species is the blue-eyed black lemur (Eulemur flavifrons), a Critically Endangered primate that is only found in a small area of Madagascar.
During her visit, the Princess Royal met with Banham’s Zoo Director of Conservation and Education, Gary Batters and Bristol Zoo’s Director of Conservation, Dr Christoph Schwitzer, who act as President and Vice-President respectively for the AEECL.
Dr Schwitzer, who constructed the original building at the field station, said: “It was the first Royal visit and first presidential visit to the project site. We are really thrilled.”
Following her visit to the AEECL sites, the Princess Royal went on to open the Fotsimaso Interpretation Centre for the Madagascar pochard in Antsohihy. BIAZA members Durrell (Jersey Zoo), the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, along with Madagascan partners have set out to save this species and restore it back to the wild. The centre in Antsohihy was established using eggs gathered from wild nests and in 2016 the partners celebrated the hatching of the 100th duckling; which has tripled the global population.
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