The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is a charity devoted to the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. Conservation on the ground and in the field is the core of ZSL’s conservation work.
ZSL has been involved in Amur tiger conservation in the Russian Far East since 1995 and has been running its own project in Lazovsky State Nature Reserve for many years. The project is focused on non-invasive population monitoring (using camera traps and snow track counts), anti-poaching efforts and increasing education and awareness.
Since 2011 the ZSL team have also been monitoring tiger numbers in Zov Tigra National Park.
Additionally, ZSL conducts a Wildlife Health Project in order to help protect both Amur tigers and leopards. This project provides veterinary training, a diagnostic laboratory and biological sample collection in order to set a baseline for future disease monitoring work. This information will help create a long term wildlife health monitoring strategy and also to create a disease risk management strategy for the proposed Amur leopard reintroduction. It is essential to know the risks posed to new leopards before release and also to ensure that the new leopards do not carry any diesase that could pose a threat to the tigers already living in the reserve.
For more information on the wildlife health monitoring read Misha Goncharuk’s blog who is one of the vets working on the project.
ZSL is a coordinating member of ALTA and also provides administration costs enabling us to continue sending 100% of donations to our projects in the field. For more information on ZSL’s work in the Russian Far East visit their website.
As well as coordinating ALTA, ZSL coordinates both the Amur leopard and Amur tiger EEPs (European breeding programmes for endangered animals). Zoos participating in the EEPs serve a hugely valuable role in raising awareness of the plight of these animals in the wild. They are great fundraisers for in situ work and they also give veterinary staff the opportunity to gain experience of working with these big cats and learn skills that can then be transferred to the field. We can also learn more about these cats’ habits and behaviour from studying them in zoos, again helping us protect them in the wild.
The Amur leopards and tigers that are bred as part of the EEP also serve as a genetic lifeboat. This is particularly important for the Amur leopard as a reintroduction plan where animals bred from zoo stock will be released into the wild to create a second population has been proposed. You can read more about the reintroduction plan here.