A charity appeal to raise funds for the conservation projects for animals in the wild supported by Yorkshire Wildlife Park has been launched. The Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation (YWPF)’s 2021 COVID Animal Conservation Appeal aims to raise £50,000 to support projects to save species including, Polar Bears, Amur Tigers, Giant Otter, Hunting Dogs and Black Rhinos.
Visitors to the award winning park donate tens of thousands of pounds to support these projects every year, but these have ceased due to its temporary closure in the latest covid lockdown.
Now the appeal, backed by the park, has been set up to ensure all the conservation projects have the funds to keep going.
YWP CEO John Minion aid:“ In addition to all the conservation work YWP does itself, the park also works hard to promote these conservation projects facilitating donations for YWPF. We can’t thank our visitors and supporters enough for all their donations to the Foundation. In 2020, rangers were due to go out to take their valuable expertise to work on vital projects overseas: to Madagascar to help lemurs, to a critical project in Ghana working on the conservation of roloway monkeys and to Japan to work on a welfare project at a bear park. None of these were able to happen and valuable work has been delayed. ‘
“Yorkshire Wildlife Park is robust enough financially to be able to look after the animals in Doncaster and cover all overhead costs during lockdown, but in these hard times it is important we keep all these important conservation projects running and fully funded which is why the park is behind this appeal.”
YWPF Trustee Cheryl Williams said “ The ongoing lockdowns have had a significant impact on income for YWPF.
“At the same time many of the projects we support have been impacted by COVID, with a lack of volunteers, funding and local issues creating pressures. This is creating the perfect storm with them and why we have decided to set up this appeal.
“We really hope everyone continues to get behind us with this appeal which will make such a huge difference to all of our animal projects that are in real need of funding.”
One of the biggest initiatives relates to the conservation of Polar Bears. YWP has long been a supporter of the Foundation’s projects for polar bears in the wild as it is home to Hamish, Luka, Sisu and Nobby in Project Polar, one of the largest reserves of its kind in the world and the park is at the forefront of international conservation efforts.
YWPF, which is based at the park, has been working with Polar Bears International on projects for wild polar bears and also supports the IUCN Climate Change specialist group which is working with scientists worldwide to observe the effects of climate change on other species around the world.The studies will continue as scientists work out ways of protecting polar bears from global warming which has seen a reduction of their sea ice hunting and breeding grounds in all the 19 regions they inhabit in the Arctic.
YWPF is also a key supporter of a project to save giant otters in Brazil that are under threat from hunting and declining natural food supplies due to illegal fishing. The Yorkshire Wildlife Foundation first made a grant to support the Instituto Araguaia project for Giant Otters in the Cantão in 2017. As well as creating jobs for locals, the project improved awareness of the Giant Otters and the need for conservation.
A new proposal for continuation of the work was granted in 2019, for the first ever full survey of the 90,000 acres of the Cantão Park to produce the full assessment of the population and conservation status of giant otters in the park, which would help guide scientists in their conservation planning.
The monitoring project, which will set up cameras to observe otters, will help educate local communities about their value to the ecosystem and raise awareness about their plight and promote conservation. But the project was nearly wiped out by a forest fire and now a shortage of volunteers due to COVID. YWP visitors have provided valuable support for this project , who have been inspired by the Park’s giant otters Alexandra and Orimar. They are both part of the European Breeding Programme which is helping to save the species from extinction.
The Ol Jogi Conservation in Kenya is home to a vitally important project that has been funded by YWPF since 2017. The first phase of the project was the installation of thermal imaging cameras to capture images of rhinos in the wild which will provide vital intelligence for their security and welfare, as well as contributing to ongoing research about these elusive animals
Other YWPF rhino projects include the provision of digital radios for rangers and building a boma (shelter) for orphaned or injured young rhino. Poaching is a key threat and this has potential to increase substantially as the pandemic halts tourism and wrecks the economic stability of the region. The projects were previously promoted by rangers at YWP at talks at the Into Africa reserve which is home to Jasper, Makibo and Najuma, three critically endangered Eastern Black Rhinos. However, even when the park was able to open in the summer, the talk and collections had to stop as part of the Covid restrictions to prevent visitors from gathering.
Yorkshire Wildlife Park Foundation supports projects on every continent except Antarctica supporting many species including Amur tiger, painted dogs, amur leopard, giraffes and camels and important projects including restoring wildlife corridors, educating communities about conservation and climate change.DONATE TODAY