The CONVERSATION is CONSERVATION!
Not only do we preach the importance of conservation in our lectures, we also aim to actively manage our own conservation projects. Our first reserve was established in an ecologically important region of Belize, to conduct in situ conservation projects. This is our first step in the realisation of our goal to manage reserves in a variety of the world's biologically important and most threatened ecosystems. Some of the species that we keep may not directly be under threat of extinction but are an effective tool for us to emphasise the plight of some of their close relatives in the wild or the anthropogenic destruction that is decimating many of their natural habitats.
The benefits of conserving animals in their natural habitats far outweigh those of keeping animals captive ex situ. Reintroduction into the wild from captive bred populations is a very tricky operation and in practice has a mixed track record. If animals can be protected in situ then drawbacks of ex situ conservation such as, reliance on humans, no learnt foraging ability or survival techniques and inbreeding depression due to a small gene pool can be largely avoided.
Although the initiative of captive breeding programmes is very plausible, the main focus should be protecting the wild populations and their habitats. The cost of quarantine, aeroplane flight and time filling in paperwork to release just one individual of just one species could be redirected into habitat protection and benefit the whole ecosystem. Even though some species such as Western Lowland Gorilla, Golden Lion Tamarin and Mongolian Przewalski Horse have seen captive zoo individuals released into the wild, it is not an everyday occurrence.
Zoofari is raising funds to set up and fund a chain of rehabilitation sanctuaries worldwide, which will be used to rehabilitate orphaned and confiscated animals for release back into their natural habitat. Zoofari hopes to work closely with the various governments for the benefit of their native populations of people, fauna and flora.