WMSP conservation mission statement:
To support conservation of threatened species and habitats, locally, nationally and internationally.
Animal collections in the 21st century have a responsibility to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity. There are numerous ways parks and zoos help protect vulnerable and threatened species and habitats.
Firstly, parks like West Midland Safari Park hold individuals of species which are endangered in the wild. By doing this captive animal institutions play a major part in ex-situ conservation (conservation conducted outside a a species natural range).
Well managed captive animal stocks form back up populations which can, if required, supplement wild populations or in the worst case scenario provide animals for a reintroduction programme if the species or a population of that species goes extinct in the wild. There are recognised species management programmes organised at regional and global levels through which animals in separate zoos are managed collectively in order to maintain genetically diverse and healthy captive populations. WMSP holds over 20 breeding programme species including giraffe, white and Indian rhinoceros, African wild dogs and Cuban crocodiles.
Secondly, responsible captive animal collections consider it their duty to contribute funds, expertise and resources to in-situ conservation projects (conservation conducted on the ground in the natural habitat of species). WMSP supports in-situ conservation nationally and internationally.
The park is part of the BIAZA Reserve Project, a collaboration between the World Land Trust and BIAZA who are working together to raise funds, through BIAZA members and their visitors, which are used to purchase and protect threatened rainforest in Brazil. WMSP also contributes financially to the Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Programme which works to protect vulnerable flora and fauna on these unique islands. Our UK based conservation efforts are focused on the habitat restoration project taking place on WMSP land and supported by Natural England. Part of the safari park site is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest due its potential as lowland heathland, a rare and diminishing habitat in the UK today.
Conservation education, raising awareness of the plight of threatened species, habitat destruction and how ordinary people can help fight extinction and destruction is a third important role fulfilled by zoological parks. WMSP has a successful formal education programme and in addition keeper talks and exhibit signage help inform visitors about the situations faced by animals in the wild and gain public support for conservation initiatives.
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