Cumberland, OH (May 28, 2007) – A consortium of the five conservation facilities with the largest acreage in the United States met recently to continue progress in sharing cooperative resources for research on endangered species.
The Conservation Centers for Species Survival (C2S2) held their annual meeting May 15 and 16 at the Wilds, a 10,000-acre conservation center in southeast, Ohio
“We are very proud to have hosted this important gathering at our facility,” said the Wilds’ Executive Director Dr. Evan S Blumer. “The Wilds’ mission is to advance conservation through science, education, and personal experience, and our involvement with C2S2 supports our scientific work with partnerships at a national and international level.”
Joining the Wilds in membership in C2S2 are the Conservation and Research Center of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park in Front Royal, Va.; Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas; White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, Fla.; and The Wild Animal Park of the San Diego Zoological Society in San Diego, Calif.
“In this age of increased environmental awareness and limited scientific resources, it just makes sense that these organizations with special facilities and expertise work together to save some of our planet’s most endangered species,” said David Wildt, senior scientist and head of the Department of Reproductive Sciences at the National Zoological Park, who also serves as head of the consortium’s Steering Committee.
The Conservation Centers for Species Survival was formed in 2005 to further empower the like-minded conservation philosophies of its members.
Through C2S2, the centers leverage their unique resources, including vast space for large-scale conservation programs; flexible, innovative and scientifically-focused approaches to conservation; and a well-established history of working together on a variety of projects.
Recognizing the value of these resources, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has partnered with C2S2 for development of cooperative conservation projects. Each of the institutions already have significantly contributed to the study and recovery of some of the nation’s most endangered species, including the California condor, black-footed ferret, Florida panther, kit fox, Mexican grey wolf, red wolf, desert tortoise, Attwater’s prairie chicken and several species of migratory birds.
The consortium plans to further the study, management and survival of endangered native and exotic wildlife species, and provide national and, over time, international leadership in the successful re-establishment of self-sustaining in-situ wildlife populations from leading-edge captive breeding programs.
At this year’s annual conference, the C2S2 formed a working group to identify research priorities for the consortium, including plans to share scientific expertise. Additionally, C2S2 members are working together to monitor the effects of removing invasive plant species on biodiversity of their landholdings, an effort generously funded by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation.
New priority initiatives also were developed to address the study and conservation of endangered horses, gazelles and antelopes, including the rapidly disappearing saiga antelope in central Asia.
In the past 10 years, saiga numbers have declined 96%, the fastest decline ever recorded for a mammal species.
“We have assembled a team of animal management staff, veterinarians and wildlife ecologists from three C2S2 institutions to develop a saiga management workshop in Russia later this year,” said Dan Beetem, director of Animal Management at the Wilds.
“We have the opportunity to share our expertise with an important captive breeding program there and learn more about these animals that will ultimately benefit the wild herds of saiga living in the same area,” he added.
Approximately 30 C2S2 representatives attended the annual meeting, which was held at the Wilds’ Overlook facility with many guests staying at The Lodge at the Wilds.
For more information about the Wilds, see www.thewilds.org .