Together they will investigate major challenges in conservation by combining some of the international projects that Chester Zoo coordinates with scientific research. Tony McDonough reports
Chester Zoo is teaming up with world-leading researchers from Oxford University in an urgent push to address the decline of endangered species across the globe.
The zoos own experts will work with the university’s renowned Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) with the shared aim of delivering high-impact conservation research to address the global decline of biodiversity.
Together they will investigate major challenges in conservation by combining some of the international projects that Chester Zoo coordinates with scientific research.
It is the zoo’s largest formal partnership with a university in its 85-year history.
Chester Zoo, which attracts almost 1.9m visitors per year, leads and supports conservation projects around the world.
These range from managing endangered bird populations in Mauritius, to studying Andean bear ecology in Bolivia and mitigating human-elephant conflict in India.
WildCRU is an internationally renowned leader in applied conservation research, comprising top graduate and postdoctoral researchers from around the world.
Over the next seven years this new partnership will see up to 10 doctoral and postdoctoral researchers placed into Chester’s conservation projects around the world.
It is hoped that this collaboration will provide new research to assist conservationists in developing innovative approaches to tackle global challenges such as human-wildlife conflict, livelihoods and sustainable development, and monitoring of populations of endangered species in the wild.
The initial cohort of scientists under this structure will study the effects of conflict mitigation efforts on tigers in the Terai of Nepal, understand the behaviour of crop-raiding Asian elephants in northeast India, and investigate the varied interactions between bears and people in Latin America.
Dr Alexandra Zimmermann, head of conservation science at Chester Zoo, said: “The aim of both Chester Zoo and WildCRU is to deliver top-quality conservation research projects that are directly relevant to urgent global conservation goals.
“This exciting new collaboration allows us to do this in a way that will maximise the impact of our joint conservation efforts.”