The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland has been chosen as the worthy recipient of this year’s BIAZA Conservation Grant which is designed to encourage and enable members of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) to engage and participate in effective conservation.
RZSS will use the £5,000 to save the rich biodiversity of Cameroon’s Mount Oku Summit, which is currently threatened by illegal livestock grazing.
The summit grasslands of Mount Oku are a unique habitat and home to a diverse range of plants and animals, including two Critically Endangered frog species and one endemic giant earthworm.
The three-year project coordinated by RZSS will endeavour to reduce the grazing threat to native flora and fauna by erecting an array of protected areas around prioritised habitats. To ensure success, the team will work in collaboration with local organisations and engage with local communities, including livestock herders, tour guides and wildlife officials.
Ben Harrower, Conservation Programme Manager for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), said: “It is a huge honour to be awarded the BIAZA Conservation Grant for 2017. RZSS has been working to protect amphibians in Cameroon and Uganda for over 10 years, and this latest phase of the project will see two Critically Endangered frog species and one endemic giant earthworm species protected.
“RZSS is safeguarding threatened species both here in Scotland and in over 20 countries around the world – this latest BIAZA grant will help us expand our work with some of the planet’s most endangered species.”
The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums established the Conservation Grant in 2014 with the aim of supporting field-based conservation projects in either the UK or abroad. These could be projects that address research priorities of rare and threatened species and habitats, or those which aim to increase awareness of ecology, conservation and environmental issues in local communities, and capacity building of people on how to develop and carry out sustainable management practices in those communities. Equally, they may be based on designing and implementing conservation education programmes, or improving the protection of wild habitats and species.
BIAZA’s Director, Dr Kirsten Pullen, said: “As a conservation charity, one of our mission aims is to support our members to participate in effective cooperative conservation programmes. Our Conservation Grant is one of a number of ways in which we do this and I am delighted that the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland has been awarded this year’s funding. The Cameroon project has been carefully considered and crucially for me it highlights that our members do not simply focus on large, charismatic species but understand that all biodiversity is equally precious and deserves our help.”
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