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Marwell Zoological Park, Colden Common, Winchester, Hampshire, SO21 1JH
Telephone: 01962 777407 Facsimile: 01962 777511 Email: email@example.com Website: www.marwell.org.uk Registered Charity No: 275433
Marwell is dedicated to the conservation of wildlife and other natural resources. We work to conserve species and their habitats, and advocate environmental and
social responsibility in support of these goals.
• To conserve species and their habitats, locally & globally.
• To encourage understanding and inspire care for the natural world.
• To undertake and share results of scientific studies. • To understand our impacts and improve our
environmental performance. • To invest in people and provide opportunities for
personal and professional development. • To communicate our mission and the value of our
work for wildlife, the environment and society. • To develop and maintain a world class visitor centre
and zoological park in support of our charitable objectives.
Marwell Education Service Page 1
Page 2: Introduction to Wildlife Conservation Page 5: The Role of Zoos Page 6: An Introduction to Marwell Zoological
Park Page 10: Case Study: Tropical Rainforests Page 15: Case Study: African Elephants
Page 22: Conclusion Page 25: References and Recommended
Reading Page 29: Appendix 1 – The Zoo Debate Page 33: Appendix 2 – The Education
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Introduction: Wildlife Conservation The aim of this booklet is to give you an insight into the work that zoos, like Marwell, are trying to achieve and for you to explore some of the dilemmas that are faced by conservationists in the field. Is There a Need for Conservation? There have been many attempts to answer this question and the responses have varied greatly from an emphatic “yes” to “we don’t know”. The reasons for the uncertainty arise from the fact that we don’t exactly know how many species we share the planet with. Currently, there are only about 1.9 million¹ species known to science, but it has been estimated that there are between 10 million and 100 million species. As we can only make educated guesses as to the total number of species, we can only make educated guesses as to the size of the problem. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) has tried to categorise all of the known species (no easy task) to evaluate their status in the wild. These species lists are updated and published every two years in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals, (there is also an equivalent publication concerned with plants). The following list is taken from the Red List website, and the animals that are written in italics are found at Marwell.
IUCN Categories Extinct: Dodo Extinct in the Wild (EW): Przewalski’s horse Critically Endangered (CR): Amur tiger Endangered (EN): Red ruffed lemur Vulnerable (VU): Malayan tapir Near Threatened (NT): White rhino Conservation Dependent (CD): Giraffe Least Concern (LC): Data Deficient: Chapmans zebra Not Evaluated: - an extremely large category The total number of animals listed is 15,589,(1) however this figure can be misleading as so many species have not been evaluated; the only three groups that have been fully evaluated are the mammals, birds and amphibians - of these three groups 23% of mammals, 12% of birds and 32% of amphibians are listed in the book¹. From all of this information it is estimated that 25% of species are threatened with extinction. If we make a (quite conservative) estimate at the total number of species being around 30 million then this means that there could be as many as 7.5 million species threatened with extinction, and possibly more!
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Extinction Extinction is a natural phenomenon and the fossil record indicates that 30 million species only represents 5% of the species that have existed, therefore 600 million species may have existed in the 500 million years of Earth’s history. The fossil record also indicates that the average life-span of animal species is 4 million years and the background extinction rate is 1 species every 4 years. At present the extinction rate is estimated to be between 100 - 1,000 (1) times greater than the background extinction rate, which means that we are currently in a mass extinction event. Throughout geological history there have been five other mass extinction events, the last one was 65 million years ago when the dinosaurs and many other species became extinct. No one is quite sure what caused the last five events, however the general consensus of opinion is that the current event is being caused, or at least significantly contributed to, by the presence of just one species - Homo sapiens! Threats There are 5 main threats/reasons why animals are becoming endangered. The first two are both global and indiscriminate, the third affects a wide variety of species for many different reasons and the fourth affects only a relatively few species. The fifth threat can affect particular species but in some habitats have a wide-ranging effect. However the majority of species are not just threatened by one reason in isolation, rather they are becoming endangered due to a combination of the following threats: 1. Habitat Destruction:
• 12 million acres of rainforest have been destroyed - that is equivalent to about 11 football fields a minute.(2)
• (Britain has more heathland than any other nation and the majority of this is found in Hampshire and Dorset. However, British heathland is under threat from housing development, landfill sites, erosion from uncontrolled leisure activities (e.g. mountain biking) and pollution.
• Pollution is very serious, as its effects can be encountered far away from its source.
• The emissions from burning fossil fuels, in cars, factories and in the production of electricity, contribute to the problems of global warming and acid rain.
• Chemicals such as Chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) are producing holes in the ozone layer above the Arctic and Antarctic.
• 30 billion litres of raw sewage was discharged into the Thames from September 2004 to August 2005 (that is equal to 33 Olympic swimming pools full of raw sewage per day) (3) (4).
• Pollutants, which are dumped into the rivers and oceans of many countries, have been detected in Antarctica.
• Animals are killed for several reasons; some, such as the tiger and rhino, are used in traditional medicines; some, such as snakes, elephants and spotted cats, are killed for
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the fashion industry; and some, such as gorillas and chimpanzees, are killed for meat.
• Britain is a signatory to CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species), which completely bans the trade of, or allows a limited controlled trade of, species listed on Appendix I or II respectively (for more information see the African Elephant Case Study).
4. The Pet Trade: • This only affects a few species directly, but species like the Moluccan cockatoo
and the lesser sulphur-crested cockatoo are both listed in the IUCN Red Data Book.
5. Introduction of Alien Species into Habitats:
• Unwanted exotic pets can indirectly affect several species. For example the red- eared terrapins from Central America became very popular pets due to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, however, they demonstrate a common problem - many exotic pet owners do not find enough information about their chosen pet before they buy it. Sooner or later they realise that for a variety of reasons their chosen pet isn’t suitable and they no longer want them. Many red-eared terrapins have been indiscriminately released into ponds and lakes throughout Britain. They are voracious carnivores and have proceeded to decimate the numbers of indigenous wildlife, as a result of this the EU has banned the import of these animals.
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The Role of Zoos Can zoos play an active role in Conservation? Over the past few decades most zoos have been changing their roles, and attempting to also change their image, to one of “Arks for Endangered Species”. However, it is still very easy to get the wrong impression! (Appendix I contains some of the arguments for and against zoos). In the case of long established institutions, which were essentially collections of a wide variety of species for many years, the change of both role and image has not been easy. The transition to keeping breeding groups, especially where this involves herds of ungulates, takes time to achieve from the starting point of a “stamp collection” type of zoo. Zoos in this country are hampered by receiving no government support (unlike those in the USA and Europe etc.) This means that most of them depend almost entirely on visitors’ money to keep going, and thus have to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. Like it or not, they are dependent on the leisure market for their continued existence, and thus the fun