How Giraffe About Town is supporting wildlife conservation

It has been wonderful to see just how many people have already been enjoying Giraffe About Town. In just three weeks over 91,000 sculptures have been collected and over 100,800 rewards redeemed!

On Friday 1 July, over 40 eight-foot-tall giraffe sculptures hit the streets of Edinburgh, in partnership with Wild in Art. We hope the trail will help our city recover after the pandemic and raise vital funds for our charity’s wildlife conservation work. At the end of the trail, many of the sculptures will be auctioned at a special event at the National Museum of Scotland on Tuesday 4 October 2022 to raise much needed funds for wildlife conservation.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) has protected threatened species in Scotland and around the world for over 100 years. Our natural environment is facing a biodiversity crisis and, as a leading conservation charity, we are doing everything we can to inspire and empower people to protect, value and love nature. Together, we can help save animals from extinction.

Our charity supports over 20 conservation projects around the world, from breeding the tiny pine hoverfly in the Scottish Highlands, to helping protect chimpanzees in the Budongo Forest in Uganda.

Find out a bit more about some the projects our wildlife conservation charity supports.

Giraffes

Numbers of wild giraffes has declined by almost 30% since the 1980s, with the species facing threats such as habitat loss, poaching, disease, conflict and civil unrest throughout Africa. The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) is the only organisation in the world that concentrates solely on the conservation and management of giraffes in the wild throughout Africa. As an international science-based conservation organisation, GCF provides innovative approaches to halt the silent extinction facing giraffes in the wild.

The RZSS WildGenes team, tucked behind the rhino house at Edinburgh Zoo, is also helping GCF monitor their giraffe reintroduction programmes across Uganda. Supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery for many years, this cutting-edge laboratory has links to an incredible range of worldwide projects and direct conservation action, and is the only one of its kind in the UK. The RZSS WildGenes team has been making genetic research more accessible to conservationists in Scotland and around the world since opening in 2010.

Using DNA from giraffe samples collected by GCF, they are able to investigate the genetic diversity of translocated giraffe populations and their founders. This data helps the GCF team to begin to forecast what the future for each population may look like and whether further reinforcement efforts may be required.

Pine hoverflies

Invertebrates are in decline globally and RZSS is determined to stand up for the little guys when it comes to species conservation. The pine hoverfly is so rare in the UK that no one had seen an adult of this species in the wild for nearly a decade – until earlier this year!

Thanks to successful conservation efforts by the Rare Invertebrates in the Cairngorms (RIC) partnership, the discovery of an adult female fly in June followed staggered releases of larvae in October 2021 and March 2022 at RSPB Abernethy and Forestry and Land Scotland Glenmore, sites carefully managed for conservation.

Larvae were bred as part of the RZSS conservation breeding programme for the species, based at Highland Wildlife Park. The adult sighting is an early sign of success for the project.

Wildcats

Most of us yearn to catch a glimpse of the Highland tiger, yet never do. If we don’t act immediately, we never will. Scotland’s wildcats are teetering on the edge of extinction.

At RZSS, we have been involved with Scottish wildcat conservation for over 10 years and continue to play a critical role in long term recovery efforts for this species, leading the Saving Wildcats partnership project.

Based at Highland Wildlife Park, Saving Wildcats aims to prevent the extinction of wildcats in Scotland by breeding and releasing them into the wild.

Saving Wildcats is as much about people as it is about wildcats, helping to boost local economies through wildlife tourism as well as supporting longer term employment.

Chimpanzees

Nestled in over 100,000 acres of the Ugandan rainforest, the Budongo Conservation Field Station (BCFS) combines cutting-edge research with practical action on the ground to study and protect a community of 800 wild chimpanzees.

The project – which was first established in 1990 and has been core-funded by RZSS since 2005 – has looked to establish the Budongo Forest Reserve as a model for tropical rainforest management and is overseen by a predominantly Ugandan team.

More than 150 researchers have been based at the field station over the years, studying everything from chimp injuries to tropical forest bird ecology and wider land use changes. The project also works closely with local communities to reduce the impact of both deforestation and snare injuries to the area’s chimpanzees, something which has been hugely effective since it was introduced in 2001.

There are so many ways you can help support this vital work. Every purchase of the Giraffe About Town app, visit to Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park and animal adoption helps support projects just like these. Interested in finding out more about our charity’s conservation work? Visit rzss.org.uk/conservation

This work is also made possible thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Swirl
Giraffe About Town