|Date||21 Jun 2005|
The Zoo Counterpart Initiative is a concept intended to draw together the separate efforts of zoos and international conservation NGOs (INGOs) to save threatened species of the world.
The theory is that, by combining their particular strengths and skills, Zoos and INGOs can achieve more, hopefully much more, together than they can by working separately. INGOs bring field science, and experience in building the capacity of local communities to live sustainably with their environment. Zoos bring animal husbandry and breeding expertise, enclosure building and maintenance, education resources and materials.
The two sectors, INGOs and zoos, have had an uneasy relationship as representatives of both have conducted their own versions of species rescue and recovery, sometimes within the natural range of the animal, sometimes many thousands of miles away; sometimes by managing wild populations ‘in-situ’, sometimes by removing them to restricted ‘ex-situ’ conditions. There is a great variety and mix of in/ex-range, and in/ex-situ management methods. Sometimes two or more variations combine for the management of ‘meta-populations’. It is a time of trial and error as zoos feel the pressure of the European Zoos Directive to comply with Conservation Measures originating from the Convention on Biological Diversity at the Earth Summit in 1992. Much that is new and daunting to zoos is routine for INGOs, and INGOs are unlikely to have the hands-on experience of zoos that handle animals on a daily basis.
The Zoo Counterpart Initiative is intended to identify the needs and strengths of zoos and INGOs, in order to make a case for cross sector cooperation that will deliver conservation value considerably greater than the sum of these two parts. First of all, to establish what has already been done, proven or rejected, Simon Hicks has now interviewed the Directors, or Conservation personnel if they have them, of 15 zoos in the UK that have engaged in conservation endeavours. He is analysing the results and will soon be able to share a snapshot of UK zoo activity as it adjusts its role and purpose to meet a gathering wave of species extinction. The second stage is to match a UK zoo with a project overseas, and an INGO, that puts the theory to the test and provides a model on which to build the concept. Simon is looking for zoos to play a critical role in the survival of species in China, Indonesia, North and East Africa, that include a monkey, a lion, an eagle and a babirusa. He hopes to announce the first Zoo Counterpart Initiative soon. Watch this page!
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