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Exciting new commitment to elephant conservation

Partnership with Zambia-based Conservation South Luangwa aligns with a new Conservation Strategic Action Plan.

In a substantial new commitment to wildlife conservation, Zoo Atlanta announces a new partnership with Conservation South Luangwa to protect African elephants and other species impacted by wildlife trafficking and human-wildlife conflict. The partnership represents a significant step toward a goal of increased leadership in African elephant conservation for Zoo Atlanta.

Based in Zambia, Conservation South Luangwa is a nonprofit organization working to identify and prevent illegal wildlife trade using anti-poaching patrols, aerial surveillance and detection dogs trained to find ivory, animal skins, ammunition and firearms, and certain species killed for bushmeat. More than half of the people inhabiting this region of Zambia make a living from agriculture and natural resources, making human-animal conflict a major threat for African elephants and other wildlife when animals are persecuted by humans for exploiting crops. Conservation South Luangwa also has a strong focus on mitigating these conflicts by working directly with local people to safeguard their crops and livelihoods while engaging them as advocates for wildlife conservation.

“African elephants and the many other species now in decline can only survive with a multifaceted approach to conservation through programs which can succeed and remain sustainable over the long-term. Zoo Atlanta is thrilled to partner with Conservation South Luangwa on efforts that are proving to be effective now, in one of the areas most affected by the illegal ivory trade and alongside the people who live there,” said Raymond B. King, President and CEO. “At the same time as the Zoo is in the process of making a significant investment in a new and expanded savanna habitat for elephants through the Grand New View project, it is vital that we similarly invest in the future of their counterparts in the wild. While there is much that we can do here at Zoo Atlanta to help maintain species, educate and create connections, share research and support, and offset the threats now facing wild environments, a vital role we also play is to partner and support other organizations making a difference in the places where our help is needed the most.”

Zoo Atlanta has always placed conservation at the forefront of its mission, with a long history of conservation program support and scientific research focused on enhancing a global body of knowledge on animal behavior. The partnership with Conservation South Luangwa is a commitment which strongly aligns with Zoo Atlanta’s new Conservation Strategic Action Plan, finalized in 2017 to continue to guide and enhance the Zoo’s conservation efforts both locally and globally. The plan focuses on five primary goals through which Zoo Atlanta will make a demonstrable, meaningful impact to conservation by committing resources, both financial and professional; leading and supporting conservation initiatives based on science; educating and empowering people to take conservation action; amplifying the Zoo’s conservation impact through collaboration; and developing, enhancing, and expanding Zoo Atlanta’s sustainability programs and practices.

An overview of the Conservation Strategic Action Plan and key highlights of current Zoo Atlanta conservation efforts are included in the 2018 report “Beyond the Zoo: Zoo Atlanta’s Commitment to Saving Species,” released today and available in its entirety here.

The elephant conservation partnership is the newest supplement to Zoo Atlanta’s already considerable commitment to saving species and their habitats around the world. The Zoo’s conservation support totaled over $1 million in 2017 alone. Zoo Atlanta has contributed over $10 million in direct support for the preservation of wild giant pandas. As one of only a select few zoos to contribute $10,000 a year to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Ape Taxon Advisory Group, the Zoo is a Platinum Supporter of a collective effort to preserve wild ape populations and to increase and sustain financial support from zoos for their conservation. Zoo Atlanta provides pro-bono headquarters space and resources for its longtime partner in gorilla conservation, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International. Additional efforts include but are not limited to a nearly 30-year partnership with the Brazil-based Golden Lion Tamarin Association; Panamanian golden frog conservation in partnership with Project Golden Frog; and support of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s 96 Elephants campaign.

Conservation efforts for native species include a collaboration to rear and reintroduce eastern indigo snakes to Alabama’s Conecuh National Forest and an ongoing commitment to rearing diamondback terrapins for release into the wild through support of the Georgia Sea Turtle Center’s Jekyll Island Causeway Conservation Program. Zoo Atlanta also partners on efforts to restore the critically endangered mountain bog ecosystem of the southern Appalachian region and is home to a safeguarding site for the critically endangered Michaux’s sumac, a plant species found only in the southeastern U.S.

In addition to these efforts, Zoo Atlanta contributes 25 cents of every general admission ticket to projects for wildlife through its Quarters for Conservation program – 2018-2019 programs are Lion Guardians, the Pandrillus Foundation’s Drill Ranch and Rainforest Trust – and helps to fund other organizations working in the field through its Mabel Dorn Reeder Conservation Endowment Fund.

Visit here to learn more about conservation work at Zoo Atlanta.

Photo by Edward Selfe Photography

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