Chief Executive’s Blog

August 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

Hello again,

As you may remember, in April we had two very special visitors who travelled all the way from the Budongo Conservation Field Station (BCFS) in Uganda to spend some time at Edinburgh Zoo. RZSS is the core funder of BCFS and I am delighted to give you a little update on what has been happening out in Budongo Forest over July.

EX-hunter with goats

EX-hunter with goats

Two more Veterinary undergraduate students from Makerere University were stationed at BCFS for the whole month where they got first-hand experience in monitoring chimpanzee health and behaviours, conducting laboratory procedures and learning about conservation. BCFS were also busy implementing the first phase of the Alternative Livelihoods Programme, a partnership with charity Village Enterprise whose mission is to equip those living in poverty with resources to create sustainable businesses. It targets vulnerable groups and villagers, including hunters, widows and low income earners, around Budongo Forest Reserve and introduces training in enterprise development, conservation values and household sanitation. The beneficiaries chose goat management and growing onions as their enterprise choice for the year and I am looking forward to sharing with you their progress. As part of the support, BCFS also conducted livestock treatment during the sessions and over 800 domestic animals were treated through five villages.

Photo by Kevin Schafer

Photo by Kevin Schafer

Meanwhile, out in Brazil, the RZSS is working to help zoos fulfil their potential role as conservation institutions. In March this year, RZSS helped fund a workshop to create an action plan for the Brazilian Zoo Association. Now, our giant armadillo project has launched a National Armadillo Conservation campaign in partnership with the Brazilian Zoo Association. We have made lots of materials, games, videos, stories and information so that each Zoo can create their own activities. A web site has been created and we hope to translate all the materials to English and Spanish. Zoos in Brazil receive 20 million visitors each year and partnering with them is a great way for the project to reach out to people throughout the country. This partnership also helps create an in-situ / ex-situ conservation link between zoos and field projects.

And of course, as I’m sure you are all aware, there was a lot of excitement at the giant panda enclosure at the start of the week after the announcement that Tian Tian is pregnant. We all have our fingers/paws/hooves crossed it will be third time lucky and tests indicate that she may give birth at the end of the month. Of course, it is still early days and like last year, the late loss of a cub is unfortunately still entirely possible. In the meantime we endeavour to help Tian Tian be as comfortable as possible which (as she is showing sensitivity to noise) includes closing the panda enclosure. We are also looking forward to welcoming our Chinese colleagues next week who will be helping us prepare for the birth. Exciting times!


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