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Two Species on the Brink of Extinction Being Brought Into Safety from Threats in the Wild

Six tiny nestlings at San Diego Zoo Global’s facilities in Hawai‘i are being closely watched by conservation biologists. These six chicks represent hope for a small Hawaiian bird species known as the ‘akikiki. The species is being brought into captivity to start a breeding population through a collaborative effort by the Kaua‘i Forest Bird Recovery Project (KFBRP), State of Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources’ (DLNR) Division of Forestry and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office (USFWS-PIFWO) and San Diego Zoo Global. Eggs from ‘akikiki and ‘akeke‘e nests were collected from the wild recently as part of an effort to preserve these two bird species from extinction.

“Both the ‘akikiki and ‘akeke‘e have shown steep declines over the past 10 to 15 years, and now number fewer than 1,000 birds each,” said John Vetter, forest bird recovery coordinator of the DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife. “A panel of experts in Hawaiian forest bird conservation convened to identify steps needed to preserve these species and ranked the initiation of captive breeding populations as one of the highest priorities for both species.”

The ‘akikiki and ‘akeke‘e are two species of Hawaiian honeycreeper found only on the island of Kaua‘i. These two small bird species have been severely affected by introduced diseases such as avian malaria, loss of native forest habitat, hurricanes, and the introduction of non-native predator species in the wild. Very little is known about them and they have not been raised in a zoological setting before. Conservationists with the HEBCP have worked successfully with a number of other similar native Hawaiian birds and are using these techniques to ensure both species will thrive.

“By bringing ‘akikiki and ‘akeke‘e into captivity for breeding purposes, we will prevent their extinction and support their future recovery by releasing captive-reared offspring into the wild in the future,” said Bryce Masuda, conservation program manager, San Diego Zoo Global.

“Since early March, KFBRP team members have spent hundreds of hours searching the dense rain forests of Kauai’s ‘Alaka’i Wilderness Preserve for the cryptic nests of these two rare species,” said Dr. Lisa “Cali” Crampton, KFBRP project leader.  “Both nest on tiny branches at the top of the canopy, about 30 to 40 feet high, and camouflage their nests as clumps of moss. To reach the nests, KFBRP devised a suspension system for a 40-foot extension ladder.”

Eggs from the two species were removed from the nests and a team of bird experts hiked and helicoptered them to a facility for artificial incubation. Six ‘akikiki chicks have hatched so far and appear to be doing well under the care of San Diego Zoo Global staff. Conservationists will continue their efforts for the remainder of the breeding season. The USFWS-PIFWO provided the majority of the funding for the project and a grant from the Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund has also been instrumental in this effort.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

KFBRP is a collaboration between the Pacific Studies Cooperative Unit of the University of Hawai’i and the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife. KFBRP’s mission is to promote knowledge, conservation of Kauai’s native forest birds, with a particular focus on the three endangered species: puaiohi, ‘akikiki and ‘akeke‘e. For more information, please visit kauiforestbirds.org. The mission of the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry and Wildlife is to responsibly manage and protect watersheds, native ecosystems, and cultural resources and provide outdoor recreation and sustainable forest products opportunities, while facilitating partnerships, community involvement and education.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The mission of the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office is to conserve and restore native biodiversity and ecological integrity of Pacific Island ecosystems for the benefit of present and future generations through leadership, science-based management, and collaborative partnerships.

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Transparency Leads to High Rating for San Diego Zoo Global Fiscal Management

Global_logo_color webFor the third year in a row San Diego Zoo Global has earned a four-star rating from Charity Navigator for its fiscal management and commitment to accountability. A three-year, four-star rating is achieved by only 12 percent of the 8,000 organizations surveyed. The rating system serves as a guide offering information for philanthropy.

“We are proud to be a trusted destination for conservation philanthropy,” said Douglas G. Myers, president and CEO of San Diego Zoo Global. “We work hard to ensure that money raised for our mission goes immediately into the important work saving species from extinction.”

Over the last three years San Diego Zoo Global has committed more than $500 million for animal care, exhibits, education programs and conservation initiatives. Significant programs include its ongoing work to recover the California condor, head-starting and reintroduction programs for Caribbean iguanas, contribution to knowledge about giant pandas and support for fieldwork on six continents.

Charity Navigator works to help charitable givers make intelligent giving decisions by providing information on more than 8,000 charities nationwide and by evaluating their financial health. It calculates each charity’s score based upon several broad criteria, including how much is spent per dollar raised, what percentage of funds goes to programs vs. administrative and fund-raising expenses, and the organization’s long-term financial health. It then assigns a rating from one to four, with four being the best rating. San Diego Zoo Global has received a four-star rating through this system seven times in the last eight years.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291
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Largest-Ever Approved Desert Tortoise Preserve Created by Cadiz, Inc.; San Diego Zoo Global Contracted to Assist Species Management

Global_logo_color webSan Diego Zoo Global announced that it will be working with Cadiz Inc. to manage the newly created Fenner Valley Desert Tortoise Conservation Bank. Cadiz Inc. is creating the Bank by designating up to 7,400 acres of its private land holdings in eastern San Bernardino County for permanent protection through the establishment of the Fenner Valley Desert Tortoise Conservation Bank. The Bank, largest-ever approved by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (“CDFW”), will provide permanent protection of habitat for the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), a California State and federally listed threatened species.

“With scores of projects planned in Southern California that could place the desert tortoise at risk, we are fortunate that Cadiz is able to protect such vast territory for the benefit of this threatened animal and others,” said Ron Swaisgood Ph.D., Director of Applied Animal Ecology, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. “It is through such actions and ongoing research at these protected lands that sustainable recovery of the threatened desert tortoise could one day be achieved.”

Under an MOU with Cadiz Inc., San Diego Zoo conservation experts will work with the Bank to assist in the development of conservation management strategies for the threatened desert tortoise and other conservation-dependent wildlife within the bank properties.

The properties enrolled in the Bank are located in the Mojave Desert near the Mojave National Preserve and the Nevada border in an area designated by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service as Desert Tortoise Critical Habitat. These properties are undeveloped and home to various threatened species in addition to the desert tortoise.

The Fenner Conservation Bank was approved by the CDFW, the public agency responsible for coordinating California’s land conservation banking program. Under the CDFW program, private lands enrolled in a conservation bank can be used to offset impacts to species or habitats that may occur outside of the bank’s boundaries. The approval of the Fenner Conservation Bank by the CDFW allows bank credits, which are associated with certain parcels of land, to be made available immediately to those projects and entities seeking to offset impacts to the desert tortoise across the Southern California desert region. It is anticipated that various projects planned for the desert, including renewable energy projects, will benefit from the credits that will be available from the Fenner Conservation Bank.

“The California desert is home to unique environmental treasures as well as exceptional industries and businesses, all of which define our greatness. I’m grateful to private landowners like Cadiz that can enter into public-private ventures such as conservation banks for the benefit of the desert environment, because without such partners our State’s ability to balance species protection with our development needs would be greatly limited,” said U.S. Congressman Paul Cook, (CA-8).

Upon sale of credits, the associated property will be permanently protected under a conservation easement and managed in perpetuity by the San Diego Habitat Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing high-quality habitat management services in undeveloped areas throughout Southern California.

“The San Diego Habitat Conservancy is excited to be participating in this first of its kind desert tortoise conservation bank. This creative, long-term resource management effort will greatly benefit the species by guaranteeing safe, sustainable habitat in perpetuity for this dangerously threatened species,” said Don Scoles, Executive Director of the San Diego Habitat Conservancy.

Veteran land conservation consultants, Michael McCollum of McCollum Associates and Barry Jones of Sweetwater Environmental Biologists, Inc., coordinated the establishment of the Fenner Conservation Bank for Cadiz. McCollum and Jones were also instrumental in the development of the state and federal conservation banking policy program and are responsible for guiding the creation of over 17 conservation and mitigation banks in California.

About Cadiz Inc.
Founded in 1983, Cadiz Inc. is a land and water resource development company that owns 70 sq. miles of property and water rights in Southern California. The Company is engaged in a combination of organic farming and water supply and storage projects, including the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery & Storage Project, a public-private partnership approved to provide a new, reliable water supply throughout Southern California. Cadiz abides by a “Green Compact” focused on sustainable practices to manage its land, water and agricultural resources and has committed to implement its projects without harm to the environment. For more information about Cadiz, visit cadizinc.com.

About San Diego Zoo Global
Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291
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For World Wildlife Day: Talking Trafficking

We think the tusks look better on the elephant, don't you agree?

We think the tusks look better on the elephant, don’t you agree?

Today is World Wildlife Day! The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed this day, the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as an important one to highlight one of the most serious threats to wildlife across the globe: the illegal trade in wildlife, also called wildlife trafficking.

Wildlife trafficking is the illegal sale or trade of animals or plants, in part or in whole. For some wildlife, trade is legal: harvesting fish from the sea to feed people is a common practice. In the western world, it typically occurs in accordance with regulations and quotas to ensure that this commercial enterprise does not doom the fish to extinction. Your kitchen may contain mushrooms or morels that were harvested from the wild for your consumption. Some medicinal plants harvested in the wild might infuse your cup of tea. These are legal examples of trade in wildlife and plants.

This black rhino was fortunate to not be one of the more than 1,200 killed for its horn in 2014. How long will its luck hold?

This black rhino was fortunate to not be one of the more than 1,200 killed for its horn in 2014. How long will its luck hold?

Illegal trade in wildlife occurs when local and international laws are broken for the purpose of commercial enterprise. Often, the laws come about to support CITES, whose objective is to prevent commerce from threatening the survival of plant and animal species. Typically, laws are broken when that commerce proves exceptionally lucrative, as has proven to be the case for species like elephants and rhinoceros. Unfortunately, elephant ivory and rhino horn can bring big financial returns for poachers and the crime syndicates who fund them. Ounce for ounce, rhino horn is worth more than drugs like cocaine on the black market, drawing as much as $60,000/kilogram. This is the primary reason that rhino populations are suddenly experiencing steep declines, as poachers slaughtered 1,215 across the globe in 2014. That’s one rhino killed every eight hours for the purpose of making money for criminal organizations. And elephants are victims, too. Killed for their ivory tusks, about 96 elephants a day fall victim to illegal trafficking. These deaths draw both rhinos and elephants closer to the threat of extinction.

As stated by UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, “Illegal wildlife trade undermines the rule of law and threatens national security; it degrades ecosystems and… combating this crime is not only essential for conservation efforts and sustainable development, it will contribute to achieving peace and security in troubled regions where conflicts are fueled by these illegal activities.” This is a serious conservation issue. Its time we all get serious about wildlife trafficking.

Know before you buy, and don't purchase ivory items or anything made from rhino horn.

Know before you buy, and don’t purchase ivory items or anything made from rhino horn.

What can you do? Start by informing yourself. Though China is one of the primary destinations for most trafficked goods, you might be surprised to learn that the US is the second leading recipient of illegal ivory. So take the next step: refuse to buy trafficked goods. Never, ever buy ivory statues or jewelry, or rhino horn products and powders. Ending the demand for these items is an important part of the offensive to end the slaughter of rare wildlife across the globe, and a crucial part of preventing extinction.

San Diego Zoo Global is in the business of ending extinction. Combating illegal wildlife trafficking is an important part of meeting that objective. We hope you’ll join us this World Wildlife Day by getting serious about wildlife crime.

Suzanne Hall is a research coordinator for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Read her previous post, Who You Calling Sloth?.

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Ambassador Mi Ton Teiow Receives a New Posting

Mi Ton Teiow explores the archaeology and classical culture of ancient Greece, which included stories and myths about bears and people.

Mi Ton Teiow explores the archaeology and classical culture of ancient Greece, which included stories and myths about bears and people.

Bear Conservation Ambassador Mi Ton Teiow was posted to San Diego Zoo Global for one year following the 22nd conference of the International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA) in Provo, Utah, but he has now moved on to new adventures!

En route to the 23rd conference of the IBA in Thessaloniki, Greece, Mi visited some of the world-famous archaeological sites in Athens, and admired a statue of a little bear dedicated to the Greek goddess Artemis. This was a beautiful reminder that bears have played an important role in European culture since the rise of European civilization, and they still do. This point was reiterated at the conference during a special session on human-bear conflict. In addition, a session on conservation of Mongolian Gobi bears was attended by representatives of the Mongolian government, further illustrating the importance that some people around the world continue to place on bears and bear conservation.

Mi also heard updated assessments of the conservation status of the eight bear species by the IUCN’s Bear Specialist Group. Six of the eight species of bears are now considered at some risk of extinction, which is a sobering reality in a changing world. As part of the discussion of the status of Asiatic black bears and sun bears, Mi heard about ongoing efforts to reduce the impact of the harvest of these bears’ bile, which is used in some traditional medicinal practices. Mi’s previous travels have not dealt much with the issue of bear bile harvest, but Mi is now gaining much more exposure to this topic.

During the conference, a select committee of international bear biologists decided that Mi could now best serve bear conservation by traveling with Matt Hunt, Chief Executive of Free the Bears Fund, a non-profit, non-governmental organization focused on the conservation of bears in Asia. Since leaving Greece, Matt and Mi have already visited India, Cambodia, Australia, and Laos. So, although Ambassador Mi Ton Teiow has already explored bear conservation in many countries, there are many opportunities for further discovery. Good luck, Mi!

Russ Van Horn is a scientist with the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Read his previous post, What to Eat When There’s Nothing to Eat.

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Feeling Better and Getting Her Nails Done: Northern White Rhino at San Diego Zoo Safari Park Gets Pedicure

Northern white rhino Nola receives a regularly scheduled pedicure at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Northern white rhino Nola receives a regularly scheduled pedicure at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Nola, a critically endangered 40-year-old northern white rhino, received some pampering and a pedicure earlier today at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. While keepers Jane Kennedy and Mary Weber-Evans gave Nola a rub down and scratched her ears, keeper Ken McCaffree trimmed the 4,000-pound rhino’s nails. The elderly Nola, who was under veterinary care for a sinus infection until recently, is feeling much better and seems to enjoy the extra-special care by her keepers.

Most rhinos wear their nails down just by walking, but Nola’s nails grow at a particularly fast rate. To provide optimal health, keepers provide Nola with nail trims about every three weeks. She is the only rhino at the Safari Park who receives pedicures. Keepers use the same type of tools to trim Nola’s nails as are used to trim horses’ hooves. Most pedicure sessions last about 30 minutes, but keepers work as long as Nola will allow. When Nola is done, she lets the keepers know by standing up and walking away.

Nola is one of just five northern white rhinos left in the world. Three other northern white rhinos are in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya and one is in the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic. The five remaining rhinos are all of an advanced age and have not reproduced. Poaching for its horn has brought the northern white rhino to such critically low numbers. 

Photo taken on Feb. 19 by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291
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Zoos Bring Animal Kingdom to Patients at Primary Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House Charities in Salt Lake City

Global_logo_color webToday, a unique collaboration designed to entertain and educate patients and their families about wildlife was announced through a partnership between the San Diego Zoo, Utah’s Hogle Zoo, Primary Children’s Hospital, and Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Intermountain Area. Funded through a generous gift by businessman and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, Primary Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Intermountain Area, the Utah’s Hogle Zoo and San Diego Zoo Global announced the arrival of San Diego Zoo Kids in Salt Lake City.

San Diego Zoo Kids is a television broadcast channel that features programming about unique and endangered animal species. It is now available on TV monitors in every patient room at Primary Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Intermountain Area.

“Primary Children’s Hospital is honored to be a part of this partnership with Hogle Zoo and San Diego Zoo to further enhance the healing environment for our patients,” says Katy Welkie, CEO of Primary Children’s Hospital. “The patients we care for and serve love the interaction with animals and the outside world, and our parents and families enjoy the connection to nature. This is also an important extension of our ongoing partnership with Hogle Zoo and elephant research related to cancer.”

The channel features video from the San Diego Zoo’s famous Panda Cam as well as other live, online cameras, fun and educational pieces about a variety of animals and up-close video encounters of popular animals with the San Diego Zoo’s national spokesperson, Rick Schwartz.

“We at the Ronald McDonald House are so delighted to be part of the launch of the San Diego Zoo Kids Channel. Many of the families with sick or injured children, staying at our Ronald McDonald House, have traveled to Salt Lake City from small rural towns throughout Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada and Montana for needed specialty pediatric care,” said Carrie Romano, Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Intermountain Area. “They come from communities that may not have a zoo and when they’re here for medical care for their children, the child is often not well enough to visit local sites, like our Utah’s Hogle Zoo. The Zoo Channel will bring the animals to the children and their families – along with countless smiles!”

“Connecting kids and animals – what could be more natural? Hogle Zoo is proud to partner with San Diego Zoo Global, Primary Children’s Hospital, and Ronald McDonald House Charities in launching the ‘San Diego Zoo Kids’ Network here in Salt Lake City,” said Craig Dinsmore, Executive Director, Utah’s Hogle Zoo. “We hope that providing this entertaining and educational programming will bring a little joy to kids and families who are dealing with serious health challenges.”

“We have always believed in the importance of putting people in touch with animals as a way to conserve species,” said Doug Myers, president and CEO of San Diego Zoo Global. “What we have heard from medical care professionals is that animal interaction and animal stories can also help promote well-being. San Diego Zoo Global has a wealth of animal stories and, through the generosity of Denny Sanford, we are able to bring these stories to the families at Primary Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Salt Lake City.”

San Diego Zoo Kids debuted at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego on Dec. 18, 2013, Los Angeles Children’s Hospital on February 14, 2014, Sanford Children’s Hospital on March 3, 2014, Children’s Hospital Colorado on March 5, 2014, and all three Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta hospitals on June 20, 2014.

About Primary Children’s Hospital
Primary Children’s Hospital is a free-standing children’s hospital located in Salt Lake City, Utah. The 289-bed hospital cares for children with complex illness and injury from across the western United States. Primary Children’s is the only Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center serving the intermountain region. It is part of Intermountain Healthcare, a non-profit healthcare system, and it is the pediatric teaching hospital for the University of Utah School of Medicine.

About Ronald McDonald House Charities
It’s something we see every day children – healing faster because they’re surrounded by their families. For over 25 years we have provided a comforting, supportive and healing place for families seeking medical care for their ill or injured children. Ronald McDonald House Charities® of the Intermountain Area (RMHC) provides stability and resources to families so that they can keep their child healthy and happy. Since opening our doors in 1988, we have helped over 45,000 families to stay close in a place that feels like home through our two core programs: Ronald McDonald House® and Ronald McDonald Family Room®.

There are many ways to get involved. You can make a charitable donation, volunteer with your family, company, church or other group. You can participate in the Adopt-A-Meal program, collect pop tabs, hold wish list drives, fundraisers or any other needed projects.

Your support is vital to our mission and will directly impact the lives of thousands of families each year experiencing one of life’s most heart-wrenching moments. Through your involvement, you can give families the ability to spend more precious time together. This means more hugs, more kisses and more “I love you’s.”

To find out more about Ronald McDonald House Charities in Salt Lake City and how to help families stay close when it matters most, visit www.ronaldmcdonaldhouseutah.org or call 801.363.4663.

About Utah’s Hogle Zoo
Utah’s Hogle Zoo is a Utah treasure. Located since 1931 on 42 acres in a unique canyon setting in the eastern foothills, the Zoo is Salt Lake City’s most visited paid attraction and one of the top visited attractions in the state. Utah’s Hogle Zoo is one of just over 200 facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. For more information visit www.aza.org

About San Diego Zoo Global
Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291
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Teens Digging In and Making a Difference: San Diego Zoo Safari Park Conservation Corps Members Restore Native Habitat at Lake Hodges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FEB. 7, 2015 CONTACT: 	SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL 		PUBLIC RELATIONS 		619-685-3291 WEBSITE: www.sdzsafaripark.org DOWNLOAD PHOTO AT:  https://sandiegozoo.box.com/s/yevg436yvqu3gqxcj5py9v9tq1ee3i3o PHOTO NEWS RELEASE Teens Digging In anTeens from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park Conservation Corps dug in and got their hands dirty as they helped to plant 825 native plants at Lake Hodges in Escondido earlier today. The area was ravished by wildfires in 2007 and the teens were part of an ongoing project to restore native habitat.

The volunteer project, with the goal of planting 10,000 native shrubs across 25 acres at Lake Hodges, was spearheaded by the team from the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research Applied Plant Ecology Division, in conjunction with the San Dieguito River Park, with a Wildlife Conservation Society Climate Adaptation grant and a Climate Ready grant from the State of California Coastal Conservancy. To date, over 7,000 plants have been planted.

Coastal sage scrub is a disappearing habitat in Southern California, much of it being lost to invasive grasses, especially after fires. By restoring coastal sage scrub the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and Conservation Corps volunteers are helping to provide habitat to much of the unique wildlife that makes San Diego County special, including the threatened California gnatcatchers, the San Diego horned lizard, and coastal cactus wrens.

Photo taken on Feb. 7 by Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291
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From Conflict to Coexistence: Part 2

There are only about 3,000 of the endangered Grevy’s zebra left in the world, so it was great to see a foal at West Gate Conservancy!

There are only about 3,000 of the endangered Grevy’s zebra left in the world, so it was great to see a foal at West Gate Conservancy!

Read Conflict to Coexistence: Part 1

Christy and I spent a month traveling across Kenya at the end of 2014. We journeyed from the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro at the Tanzania border in the very south, up to northern Kenya and the Mathews Range. Our purpose was to meet with researchers and conservationists in the field who are leading the fight against extinction, battling not only poaching, but also working alongside communities to address localized conflicts and habitat fragmentation. We were inspired by their passion and innovation, and returned to San Diego to start planning several collaborative projects focusing on elephants, lions, rhinos, Grevy’s zebra, cheetah, leopard, giraffes, and other species.

We take a collaborative approach to conservation, which cannot ultimately be successful unless communities support, participate in, and benefit from it. As such, we were lucky to meet with some of the most inspiring communities, groups, and researchers that are working together in creative ways to bring success for people and wildlife. It is alongside these groups that San Diego Zoo Global will stand and partner with as we save species.

We cannot do any of this work without your continue support—thank you so much, because together we can end extinction! Become a Hero for Wildlife and join us in this important work.

Here are some of the groups we met, and are excited to be exploring conservation research partnerships with:

African Conservation Centre partners with communities on conservation initiatives, and is coordinating the Borderlands Conservation Initiative. Saving the richest wildlife populations on earth by working with communities and landowners along the Kenya-Tanzania border between the National Parks to establish viable, interconnected elephant and lion populations by strengthening community conservation capacity, generating jobs and income, and end poaching.

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy:  A 55,000-acre conservancy in northern Kenya. Initially focused on protecting rhino from poaching, it has grown as a leader in wildlife conservation, and spreads the benefits of wildlife conservation through community development programs to 40,000 people regionally.

Namunyak Wildlife Conservation Trust:  Encompassing the unique and bio-diverse Mathews Range, this million-acre Samburu community conservancy is the jewel of northern Kenya. Previously home to an estimated 3,000 black rhino and numerous other species, today wildlife are returning, including elephants, reticulated giraffe, leopards, cheetah. Sarara Camp, a glorious community-owned eco-lodge that gives guests a unique intimate experience, while generating wildlife income for the community It also partners with Samburu leaders on a number of innovative conservation projects.

West Gate Community Conservancy:  Recognizing this Samburu community’s vision for conservation and co-existence, San Diego Zoo Global has supported the 100,000-acre West Gate Conservancy since its inception. Ten years later it is a leader in community-based conservation, battling land degradation, collectively managing grazing, and runs innovative community programs benefitting local people and the growing population of wildlife. West Gate is also home to two extremely effective community-based conservation organizations: Ewaso Lions and Grevy’s Zebra Trust who use innovative, multi-dimensional approaches to conserve lions and endangered Grevy’s zebras and secure wildlife corridors in West Gate and beyond.

The Safari Collection:  Through its four world-class lodges, and in full partnership with the communities, the Safari Collection is a leader and innovator in sustainable ecotourism. At each location, the lodges provide income and employment locally and work collaboratively with community members to enact conservation and capacity-building programs. These include direct conservation research on cheetahs and rhino and community initiatives such as health clinics, education and sport programs. We met with the Owner and Community and Conservation Manager in the elegant Giraffe Manor, to plan potential exciting future conservation efforts.

Save the Elephants is the pioneer group for elephant research and conservation in East Africa. Save the Elephants continues cutting-edge elephant conservation research through its collaring program, and community conservation by reducing conflict and poaching. They are also tackling ivory poaching head-on across Africa and curbing demand in China and Asia.

The Giraffe Conservation Foundation:  Giraffes are the forgotten giants of Africa. They have declined by 40% since 1999, from 140,000 to less than 80,000 today. All nine types of giraffe are in decline, but some are in real trouble. The reticulated giraffe has declined by 80% over the past fifteen years from 28,000 to less than 4,700 today. Most of reticulated giraffe’s range is outside of protected areas, in addition to habitat loss, they are being relentlessly poached for meat, decoration and in response to a recent myth that giraffe bone marrow and brains cure HIV/AIDS. In close partnership with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, we are working to rapidly develop community-based conservation initiatives to stem this decline, before giraffes vanish.

David OConnor is a research coordinator for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Read his previous post, Understanding Wildlife Trade in Asia.

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Mitigation-driven Animal Translocations Are Problematic – Study Indicates Importance of Science-based Animal Moves to Conservation

Turtles Fitted with Transmitters Released into WildThe use of animal translocations as a means to mitigate construction projects and other human developments is a widespread animal-management tool. A paper published today, produced through collaboration of conservationists from San Diego Zoo Global, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, University of Kent UK, University of Newcastle and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, reviews the success rates associated with these moves from a species-conservation standpoint.

“Mitigation-driven translocations outnumber and receive more funding than science-based conservation translocations,” said Ron Swaisgood Ph.D., conservation biologist for San Diego Zoo Global. “Yet the conservation benefit of the former is often unclear, since outcomes are often poor and rarely monitored. There are other, more strategic, priorities where our limited conservation resources should be allocated.”

The study, available online ahead of print and scheduled for the March issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment the study estimates that millions of dollars are spent annually on moving animals out of the way of human interference, and may not be meeting the goal of preserving the populations as intended by legislation.

“Because mitigation releases are economically motivated, outcomes may be less successful than those of releases designed to serve the biological needs of species,” said Jen Germano, lead author of the paper. “Evidence suggests that many mitigation-driven translocations fail, although the application of scientific principles and best practices would probably improve the success rate.”

An additional challenge, pointed out by the paper, is the lack of information accompanying many of these translocations.

“Just determining how many animals have been moved and to what effect is challenging, since records are not kept or are difficult to obtain,” said Simon Clulow of the University of Newcastle, Australia. “This documentation is essential if we are to learn lessons and improve our methods.”

Researchers point to successful science-based animal relocations and releases as forming good models for the future.

“We’ve learned a great deal from carefully designed, conservation-driven translocation research over recent years, and this needs to be better applied to mitigation translocations,” said Richard Griffiths of the University of Kent, UK. “Unfortunately, mitigation translocations often do not meet the legislative intent of preventing the decline of protected species. This can be changed in the future to give these species a better chance at long-term survival.”

ARC
Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) is the UK’s leading charity working to help frogs, toads, newts, lizards, snakes and turtles. ARC owns and manages nature reserves, runs dedicated conservation projects across Britain, leads monitoring and science programmes, and presses for stronger policies to help amphibians and reptiles. For more information, see www.arc-trust.org.

The Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) is a Research Centre based in the School of Anthropology and Conservation at the University of Kent, UK. DICE focuses on interdisciplinary training, research and conservation implementation around the world. See http://www.kent.ac.uk/dice/

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s mission is, working with others, to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

The conservation biology group at the University of Newcastle provides biotechnological solutions for global biodiversity and conservation management in collaboration with government agencies, local councils and animal welfare groups.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.