ZBCF Winning Projects

Zoo Boise is happy to announce the 2012 grant recipients from the Zoo Boise Conservation Fund.

More than 5,000 votes were cast, and after counting all of the ballots here are the 6 conservation projects that will receive funding from the Zoo Boise Conservation Fund.  This year, Zoo Boise visitors raised more than $108,000 to support wildlife conservation projects.  In addition, through the support of a very generous anonymous supporter, Zoo Boise is making two additional grants, bringing the total to nearly $153,000.

Want to learn about the other finalists?  Click here.

Recipient #1 - Category A

Understanding and Managing Canine Distemper Virus as a Disease Threat to Siberian Tigers

Wildlife Conservation Society
Species Focus: Siberian/Amur Tiger
Country, Continent: Russia, Asia
$27,350 requested

Siberian tigers in Russia are facing a new challenge: the emergence of a lethal disease. Canine distemper virus is a well-known cause of mortality in wild carnivores, but has only recently been identified in wild tigers.  The virus affects the nervous system, and infected animals behave unusually, are disorientated and may appear blind.The disease has a high fatality rate, and appears to be occurring at a level that will place this threatened population at greater risk of extinction.

The goal of this project will be to identify practical solutions that will reduce the threat of canine distemper to Siberian tigers. To achieve this we will first implement a detailed epidemiological investigation that will identify the species that are contributing to the circulation of the virus and acting as a source of infection for tigers.Potential hosts include domestic dogs that live alongside tiger habitat, and other more abundant wild carnivores such as raccoon dogs, badgers and foxes. We will conduct health surveys of these populations, testing for the virus and for antibodies that indicate exposure. Survey results will be used to develop computer models to predict the impact of the disease on the tiger population, and identify vulnerabilities in the chain of infection.Once complete, these studies will be used to design cost-effective control strategies (such as targeted vaccination, or measures to reduce contact between tigers and infection sources) to aid protected area managers in reducing tiger infection rates.

The findings of the study will have direct relevance both to Siberian tigers and other carnivores that share their range, such as the Critically Endangered Amur leopard. More widely, this study will act as a template for addressing disease threats to tigers elsewhere in their range and serve as a model for future investigations in those areas.

Recipient #2 - Category A

Life-Saving Medical Care for Confiscated Eastern Gorilla Orphans: Every Life Counts for These Critically Endangered Species

Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project
Species Focus: Mountain Gorilla and Eastern Lowland Gorilla
Country, Continent: Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa
$22,251 requested

The Mountain Veterinary Gorilla Project, also known as Gorilla Doctors, is dedicated to saving the lives of critically-endangered mountain gorillas and endangered eastern lowland gorillas living in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Gorilla Doctors dedicates significant resources to help rescue and provide medical care to gorillas orphaned by poachers hoping to sell them on the black market. Over the last few years, gorilla poaching has been on the rise and recent civil unrest has compounded our concern for gorillas in the region.

As first responders when an orphan is confiscated, Gorilla Doctors provides medical care including emergency treatment for ailments ranging from bullet wounds to pneumonia and ongoing 24-hour physical and emotional care through an experienced caregiver. Caregivers are tested for infectious diseases through our Employee Health Program to decrease the chance of spreading human disease to these extremely susceptible infants. While the gorillas remain in human care, they receive regular physical exams and treatment for illness and injury just like human children. Currently, Gorilla Doctors is responsible for the daily care and health of one eastern lowland gorilla at our interim quarantine facility in Rwanda and for the health of four mountain gorilla orphans (the only captive mountain gorillas in the world) at a partner sanctuary in DRC. The Zoo Boise Conservation Fund can help the Gorilla Doctors maintain the orphans’ good health, monitor disease exposure, gain knowledge in proper captive care, provide employment and capacity-building to local people, and educate the community of the gorilla’s importance as a national treasure. It is hoped that these orphans will one day return to the wild to contribute to their species’ survival. The Zoo Boise Conservation Fund can help us make this dream a reality.

Recipient #3 - Category B

Rescue to Reintroduction: Reversing the Decline of Madagascar's Imperiled Radiated Tortoise

Turtle Survival Alliance
Species Focus: Radiated Tortoise
Country, Continent: Madagascar, Africa
$29,120 requested

The Radiated Tortoise (Astrochelys radiata) is one of Madagascar’s most iconic and culturally significant species. Highly sought after by well-organized criminal poaching networks for bush meat and the pet trade, the species is imperiled. Large adults are unnecessarily slaughtered by the hundreds while literally thousands of easily transported juveniles are shipped to Asia. Because they are considered to be the world’s most beautiful tortoise, a single animal can fetch up to $25,000 on the black market. This coupled with the destruction of nearly 98% of its habitat has pushed this species to the brink. Scientists have documented a catastrophic 50% decline in the wild in just 15 years with tortoises having vanished from entire landscapes in just the past five. If we fail to take serious action now, the Radiated Tortoise could be extinct in the wild in 20-40 years. For these reasons, it is ranked Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List.

While hundreds of illegally collected tortoises are confiscated each year, many die of neglect while being housed under inappropriate conditions. This is a major blow to conservation efforts because these tortoises can and should be returned to the wild. Confiscated tortoises can only contribute to the survival of their species if they can be rehabilitated and their health restored before release. The main obstacle here is the complete lack of adequate housing facilities. The Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) is seeking funding to build temporary holding facilities for confiscated tortoises, which will give them a second chance at life and to contribute to the survival of their species in the wild. This will also provide a currently powerless community with professional training and development, incentives, and employment opportunities as a result of conservation efforts. This project is one component of a larger,multidimensional reintroduction strategy for this species.

Recipient #4 - Category B

The Green Light Project - Reforestation, Solar Energy, and Community-Supported Conservation of the Black and White Ruffed Lemur

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo
Species Focus: Black and White Ruffed Lemur
Country, Continent: Madagascar, Africa
$29,974 requested

Madagascar is the only place in the world where lemurs are found in the wild. Lemurs needforests, but this island nation does not have much suitable habitat left. Deforestation and hunting havecaused the number of Black and white ruffed lemurs to decline by 80% over the past three decades. Now,this lemur can only be found in isolated groups and its survival depends on the expansion andreconnection of these forests.

To help save the Black and white ruffed lemur, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium (OHDZA) and its partner, Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership (MBP), are working with the community of Kianjavato. Here, there are multiple groups of this lemur all eating huge quantities of fruit – whole!The lemurs then pass the seeds unharmed, some nearly two inches long. OHDZA-MBP discovered that seeds collected from poop grow better than “unprocessed” seeds. In our unique reforestation project,we’re using seeds from the lemur doo-doo to rebuild a lemur-friendly forest. Not only are we planting the lemurs’ favorite seeds, but also timber and fruiting trees closer to the villages to provide additional food and income.

Since 2009 OHDZA-MBP has partnered with Kianjavato residents to grow these seeds in nurseries. Kids, parents, teachers, scientists and college students are working together to plant the seedlings into the gaps between the remaining forest fragments. From January to June 2012, 30,374 seedlings were planted! In 2013, the community will strive to plant 100,000 seedlings for The Green Light Project to earn solar panels for their schools designed by University of Nebraska’s Student Chapter of Engineers Without Borders-USA, bringing everyone closer to the ultimate goal of one million trees.Zoo Boise can help build nurseries, provide salaries for nursery managers, plant trees and support community education efforts by Conservation Fusion, an educational NGO. Let’s doo-doo it!

Recipient #5 - Grant made possible by anonymous donor.

Kibale Fuel Wood Project & Kibale Eco-Char Initiative

New Nature Foundation
Species Focus: Chimpanzee
Country, Continent: Uganda, Africa
$20,000.00 requested

The New Nature Foundation has worked in and around Uganda’s Kibale National Park since 2000, utilizing support from Zoo Boise’s Conservation Fund since 2008 to protect this outstanding natural jewel. KNP is an amazing haven for biodiversity, home to chimpanzees, elephants, lions, and many more of your favorite African animals. Tragically, the balance that once existed between humans and wildlife has all but vanished. NNF’s projects, the KFWP & KECI, help conserve Kibale by addressing the needs of people around its border. Small scale logging by an ever-growing population is a major threat to the park’s wildlife. These projects safeguard biodiversity and improve people-park relations through empowerment of locals to reach greater energy efficiency.

Initiated in 2006 and run by Ugandan staff, the KFWP promotes efficient stoves and firewood crops, and has an extensive environmental education campaign. In 2013, the KFWP aims to update our four Science Centers, continue annual conservation competitions (which inspire thousands to explore, understand, and create solutions to issues facing themselves and the natural world), provide intensive training to staff and interns, and continue tree planting and stove building in five parishes around Kibale.

In 2011, NNF introduced the KECI to further address the fuel crisis by providing the possibility of economic development through innovative, ecologically sound ideas that modernize our constituent’s lifestyles. The KECI produces cooking fuel from farm waste and provides the product to families free of charge through a trading program. In 2013, the KECI will further expand its membership and explore additional partnerships where the idea of completely eradicating the need for wood fuel could be adopted.

NNF offers a variety of options to individuals so that they can develop their own expression of conservation. While the focus of the two projects remains narrow, the manifestation is quite broad.

Recipient #6 - Grant made possible by anonymous donor.

Warriors for Wildlife

African People & Wildlife Fund
Species Focus: Africa l
Country, Continent: Tanzania, Africa
$24,000.00 requested

The Maasai Steppe’s African lion population is among the most threatened in Tanzania, with lessthan 700 remaining. The Maasai people have herded cattle and lived beside lions for many years. Today, there are more people, more cattle and fewer lions than ever before. Lions who hunt livestock are often killed. To save these lions, the African People & Wildlife Fund has trained local Maasai “Warriors for Wildlife” to protect livestock and lions and to help communities benefit from wildlife conservation.

By supporting “Warriors for Wildlife,” Zoo Boise will help lions and the Maasai to live together, while also giving the Steppe’s most promising schoolchildren a chance to join the next generation ofenvironmental leaders. Warriors patrol village habitat to prevent the poaching of big cats and their prey. They help find lost livestock and teach safe herding techniques. Most importantly, they help build lion-proof corrals called “Living Walls” where cattle live safely at night.

Zoo Boise’s support will also provide scholarships for future wildlife conservationists across the Maasai Steppe. Top students receive a six year scholarship to secondary school (grades 7‐13). To qualify, scholars must be active in our wildlife clubs, a program that educates young students about wildlife conservation. These scholarships often provide the only means for bright students to continue their education.

With Zoo Boise’s support, we will build 15 new Living Walls and help fund the Warriors’ community conservation activities including wildlife counts, habitat and wildlife protection patrols, and search parties to find lost livestock before lions discover them. We will also grow our scholarship program, expanding from 12 to 18 outstanding scholars in 2013. We are excited for the Warriors and schoolchildren of the Maasai Steppe to collaborate with Boise’s community and schoolchildren as we work together to save these magnificent, highly threatened lions.

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Thank you again to everyone who voted!