Conservation in the Sahara:
In 2015, The Living Desert received the prestigious International Conservation Award from the AZA for its founding and collaborative support of the Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF). The AZA’s International Conservation Award recognizes exceptional efforts by AZA institutions, facilities, or conservation partner members working toward habitat preservation, species restoration, and support of biodiversity in the wild. The Living Desert, along with the St. Louis Zoo and the National Zoo, are founders of the SCF, and part of the collaboration of 51 AZA organizations that support the SCF. This organization is dedicated to conserving the wildlife, habitats, and other natural resources of the Sahara and its bordering Sahelian grasslands. The SCF’s vision is of a Sahara that is well conserved and where ecological process function naturally benefits all of its inhabitants.
The Living Desert was recognized for its ongoing conservation efforts in the Sahara Desert. An important part of the work included reintroducing two addax born at The Living Desert into the wild of the Sahara. They are one of the most critically endangered species of antelope. As an active supporter of the Sahara Conservation Fund, The Living Desert has contributed over $100,000 to the fund, and was previously honored with the International Conservation Award for work with zebra conservation. Additionally, Karen Sausman, The Living Desert’s President Emerita, currently serves as Treasurer of SCF.
Protect Grevy’s Zebra on Horn of Africa:
A few decades ago, more than 15,000 Grevy’s Zebra inhabited Africa. Today, fewer than 2,500 remain. Habitat loss, drought and poaching has led to the sharp decline, but zoos and conservation organizations around the world are working to save the largest of all Zebras. The Living Desert provides the Grevy’s Zebra Trust (GZT) in Kenya with support for their core operations. The GZT conducts a local and regional awareness campaign, research, and rangeland rehabilitation in Kenya for Grevy’s zebra conservation. In 2011 The Living Desert provided $10,680 to the Grevy’s Zebra Trust with funds for a new GZT vehicle and for the salary of GZT Regional Field Coordinator.
As a result in 2012, The Living Desert and its many collaborators received the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ International Conservation Award for our collaborative support of the Grevy’s Zebra Trust in its efforts to save the Grevy’s zebra.
Fund to Support the IUCN/SCC Office:
Annually The Living Desert provides support for the IUCN SSC Conservation Planning Specialist Group (CPSG). For over 30 years, CPSG has linked zoos, aquariums, and other organizations with intensively managed animal populations to the IUCN Species Survival Commission. They have assisted in the development of conservation plans for more than 250 species in 67 countries, and facilitated partnerships of more than 190 zoo and aquariums, 180 NGOs, 65 universities, 50 government agencies, and 35 corporations.
Vaquita Conservation, Protection and Recovery (VaquitaCPR):
Extinction of the vaquita, the world’s most critically endangered marine mammal, is imminent without the immediate elimination of illegal fishing and removal of deadly gillnets from the vaquita’s environment. Despite the heroic efforts of the Mexican government to protect vaquitas, the animals are continuing to die at an alarming rate in illegal gillnets used to fish for a large endangered fish, the totoaba. Fewer than 30 vaquitas remain. The Mexican government has determined that emergency action is needed to temporarily remove some of the remaining animals from their threatening environment and create a safe haven for them in the northern Gulf of California.
In order to make the rescue happen The Living Desert in 2017 raised $900 through our Adopt an Animal program, raised $8,200 through our “Margaritas for Vaquitas” agreement with local bars and restaurants, and raised $4,900 in an e-blast to our members and a social media post which TLD matched for a total of $18,900 for Vaquita CPR.
International Rhino Foundation’s Southern Africa Rhino Conservation Program
The Living Desert is a financial supporter of IRF’s Southern African Rhino Conservation Program. This program addresses the unprecedented poaching crisis in Africa. Driven by ever-increasing demand from growing Asian markets (particularly in China and Vietnam), poachers are killing three or more rhinos per day in southern Africa. Poaching syndicates, mostly based in Mozambique, are well-equipped, highly-organized and dangerous – they use helicopters, machine guns, veterinary immobilization drugs and other sophisticated methods to stalk rhinos. By the end of 2014, 1,215 rhinos had been killed by poachers in South Africa alone, overtaking the 1,004 rhinos slaughtered for their horns in 2013. About two-thirds of the killing has taken place in Kruger National Park, which shares a 221 porous miles of its 621-mile border with Mozambique.
IRF’s Operation: Stop Poaching Now campaign aims to raise awareness and funding for 10 Ways to Fight Rhino Poaching:
- Boots on the Ground
- Special Training
- Early Warning and Community Involvement
- Investigation and Forensic Techniques
- Rhino Dogs
- Law Enforcement Crackdown
- Poaching Deterrents
- Translocating Rhinos to Safety
- Intensive Monitoring and Tracking
- Demand Reduction
Action for Cheetahs in Kenya’s Ongoing Research Programs:
In 2017 as one of our Year of the Cheetah project, The Living Desert financially supported the ongoing research program of the Actions for Cheetahs in Kenya. This research included:
1. Cheetah and Habitat Monitoring in Salama,
2. Cheetah and Habitat Monitoring in Samburu,
3. Improved Livestock protection,
4. Fecal Analysis and Detection Dogs, and
5. National Cheetah Survey.
Sahara Conservation Fund’s Termit & Tin Toumma Project in Niger:
Since 2005, The Living Desert financially supported SCF’s Termit and Tin Toumma Project.
The Termit and Tin Toumma regions of eastern Niger are the last remaining strongholds in the entire Sahara for a whole suite of threatened desert species, including the addax, Dama gazelle, Barbary sheep and desert cheetah. The addax population found there is the largest remaining on earth and the survival of the species depends very much on efforts to protect and manage this area. With its partners, SCF has been working for nearly a decade to establish a vast new protected area whose management will benefit both wildlife and local pastoralists through improved habitat use, access to development aid, and the promotion of appropriate ecotourism. These efforts were crowned on March 6, 2012, when Niger formally gazetted the Termit & Tin Toumma National Nature Reserve. At 97,000 square kilometers the reserve is the biggest of its type in Africa.