Africa’s incredible protected areas hold the key to securing the future of lions…

Photo credit ©BURRARD-LUCAS.COM

This is an extract from a recent report by Panthera, a global wild cat conservation organisation Billabong Zoo, Port Macquarie supports.

“In recent years, lion numbers have declined steeply. Some estimates suggest as few as 20,000 wild lions remain in all of Africa, compared to 30,000 that existed just two decades ago. Yet, the study indicates that with sufficient global support for African conservation efforts, the continent’s protected areas could support as many as 83,000 free-ranging lions.”  

read the full report at https://www.panthera.org/prides-protection-and-parks-africa-s-protected-areas-can-support-four-times-many-lions

Last chance to enter our March 2017  Lion photo competition.  

Here are some of the entries so far: 

Morgan: “Feeling a bit tired… might have a cat nap!” | Faith:  “If  could just work out how to do this winking thing, my keeper would know she’s my favourite and give me the extra meat!”  | Geoff:  “Those kids were delicious…..shame they get stuck in your teeth.”  |  Christina: “I think there’s something stuck in my teeth, you think you could get it out.”  | Samantha:  “The face you make when you tell your Mum you’re hungry and she tells you to eat some fruit.”

Surely you can do better. Enter the competition today. The winner pf the Photo Caption Competition will win an Up-close Personal Encounter with one of Billabong Zoo’s animals – see our website for details of the Encounters available http://billabongzoo.com.au/attractions/close-up-encounters/

African Lion Conservation: Project Leonardo

This month (March) Billabong Zoo is highlighting the work of a great Conservation organisation  – Panthera – who are undertaking measurable actions to help the plight of African Lions.

Panthera is the only organisation in the world that is devoted exclusively to the conservation of the world’s 38 wild cat species and their ecosystems.

Project Leonardo

The first conservation plan that encompasses the lion’s entire African range, Panthera’s Project Leonardo aims to protect lions in the key lion conservation landscapes that remain, including in and just outside key African national parks, and build or support corridors that guarantee their safe passage. The program’s overall goal is to bring lion populations back to a minimum of 30,000 individuals within 15 years.

After identifying Lion Conflict Landscapes, or areas where lions are under the greatest threat, Panthera introduces tools and techniques tailored to specific lion populations and surrounding communities. These measures include mitigating human-lion conflict by working with villagers to implement better animal husbandry techniques, supporting local law enforcement in their efforts to reduce illegal hunting, and sustainably managing legal hunting.

Using high-resolution satellite imagery, surveys, motion-triggered remote camera traps, and other innovative technology, Panthera’s scientists are able to survey and monitor lion populations, helping to identify populations in jeopardy and assess the effectiveness of implemented conservation actions.

Panthera is currently leading or supporting efforts in 15 of the 27 lion range states in Africa, including Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Chad, Gabon, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

https://www.panthera.org/initiative/project-leonardo

PHOTO CAPTION COMPETITION

Please enter our African Lion photo competition. To enter simply click on this link and enter your details and caption and send. This great photo of one of African Lions at Billabong Zoo was taken by Jennifer Baker.  The winner pf the Photo Caption Competition will win an Up-close Personal Encounter with one of Billabong Zoo’s animals – see our website for details of the Encounters available http://billabongzoo.com.au/attractions/close-up-encounters/

Winner to be announced early April 2017. We look forward to reading your captions.

Billabong Zoo, Port Macquarie, NSW 2444 – African Lions

 © https://www.panthera.org

This month Billabong Zoo, Port Macquarie, NSW 2444 is highlighting the work of a great conservation organisation – Panthera – as part of our “Conservation through Education” programme. This is an extract from their website : https://www.panthera.org/cat/lion

“Lions have undergone a catastrophic decline and are on the brink of extinction in all but the largest and best managed national parks. Just over a century ago, there were more than 200,000 wild lions living in Africa. Today, there are only about 20,000; lions are extinct in 26 African countries and have vanished from over 90 percent of their historic range. Though lions still exist in 27 African countries and one Asian country, only seven countries are known to each contain more than 1,000 lions. Lions are currently listed as “Vulnerable” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. In West Africa, the species is now classified as “Critically Endangered.” 

To read more about their hands-on conservation programmes visit the Panthera website.  https://www.panthera.org/cat/lion

For information about the two Ambassador lion cubs at Billabong Zoo click this link. http://billabongzoo.com.au/portfolio-item/african-lions/

Snow Leopard – Billabong Zoo, Port Macquarie, NSW – photo caption competition winner

Congratulations to Betty Fontenot a visitor to the Zoo from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA. Betty visited the Zoo in late January and submitted a caption. Her winning entry “Has Elvis left the building!”. She won an Up-close personal encounter with two of our resident Snow Leopards. In her words the experience was “Awesome! I am truly impressed with Billabong Zoo and the amount of information your Zoo Keepers know and are happy to share with visitors. The Snow Leopards are magnificent and it so so sad they are a threatened species with so few numbers left in the wild. Keep up your Conservation through Education program Billabong – I am sure it will make a difference.”  Thank you Betty, it was good to see you at the Zoo. 

There is another week left for you to enter our Red Panda photo competition. Winner will receive an up-close encounter with our Red Pandas (nb you have to 14 years old or over for the Encounter , if a younger person wins the caption competition the winner receive a $50 Zoo gift voucher).

Red Panda Genome Project

To continue our Red Panda awareness month we are highlighting the work of a hands-on conservation organisation: The RED PANDA TRUST. Here is an extract from their website:

Red Panda Genome Project

The Red Panda has captured the hearts of many. Worldwide they have become the ‘face of cute and cuddly’. However this fame masks a terrible reality, the imminent extinction of the Red Panda. Red Pandas are critically endangered in their home range. Threatened by illegal hunting for their coats and mass deforestation. The current conservation situation for these handsome mammals is bleak and what is worse, we have no idea how many are left. The genetic portion of this project [Genome] will allow us to pin-point biodiversity hot-spots for Red Pandas globally as well as helping our anti hunting efforts. When a Red Panda skin is found its genetic material can be run through a data base which will identify the location where the Red Panda came from. This will allow us to understand where the majority of Red Panda hunting occurs. Without this information our research and conservation efforts are in vain, we need to know where these animals are still holding on, and where we can focus our conservation efforts.     Read more

The Red Panda is on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as Endangered. At Billabong Zoo we care for two Red Pandas and you have an opportunity to book an Up-close Personal Encounter.  Enter our Red Panda Photo competition for your chance to win an Encounter. http://billabongzoo.com.au/february-2017-red-panda-photo-competition-win-a-close-up-encounter-with-these-magnificent-creatures/  Entries close 28th February 2017. 

RED PANDAS – CONSERVATION CONVERSATION

“There  could be less than 2,500 Red Pandas remaining in the wild”  –  a chilling fact according to the Red Panda Network.  Billabong Zoo, Port Macquarie, Australia applauds the work of hands-on conservation organisations whose efforts attempt to reverse the trend of animals facing extinction. This is an extract from the Red Panda Network website.

“Our education and outreach programs focus on increasing awareness among the Himalayan communities living near Red Panda habitat, as well as among the general public worldwide.

Communities situated in and around Red Panda habitat are usually marginalized and have inadequate education opportunities. Red Panda Network (RPN) provides this education through “forest guardian” workshops where educational training about the importance of red pandas and the eastern Himalayan ecosystem are provided. At these workshops, teachers are trained and given educational materials to conduct “forest guardian” trainings at their local schools. Some workshop participants are hired as Forest Guardians. These professional conservation ambassadors work within their respective communities to increase awareness of red pandas.  RPN is also working with schools throughout the Panchthar-Ilam-Taplejung (PIT) corridor in integrating red panda conservation education into their curriculums. We provide trainings for teachers on how to prepare and teach lessons. RPN organizes mini ecotrips for students of Roots and Shoots Groups and supports them in publishing red panda bulletins in their schools.  Read more @   https://redpandanetwork.org/what-we-do/education/

Don’t forget to enter the Billabong Zoo photo caption competition and have the chance of winning an Up-close Encounter with our Red Pandas.  http://billabongzoo.com.au/february-2017-red-panda-photo-competition-win-a-close-up-encounter-with-these-magnificent-creatures/

Billabong Zoo, Port Macquarie, January Snow Leopard photo competition – finalists and winner.

These were the finalists of our Snow Leopard photo competition:  

Ken from the UK – “I need to find a younger vet to remove my teeth, the older ones give me indigestion” | Amanda from Port Macquarie – “What’s so great about those lions anyway? I’m so much prettier.” | Lesa from Greta, NSW – “Grrr, g’day mate” | Betty from Louisiana –  “Has Elvis left the building?” | Stuart from Port Macquarie –  “RRRRP … just converted meat to gas.”

And the winner is: Betty from Louisiana, USA – congratulations we will contact you, before you return to the USA, to arrange a Close-up encounter with one of the Billabong Zoo’s Snow Leopard ambassador animals.

The four runner ups will go in our end-of-year competition.

February 2017 – Red Panda – photo competition – win a close-up encounter with these magnificent creatures.

Livestock Insurance – a policy to save Snow Leopards

As part of this month’s focus on Snow Leopards (IUCN Red List: Endangered species) with scientists estimating there maybe a few as 4,0000 animals in the wild, Billabong Zoo is actively promoting the work of the Snow Leopard Trust. Here is an example of one of the active programmes they are implementing to stop the decline of these magnificent creatures: 

Conservation Programmes

Snow leopards live in vast home ranges – some cats have been known to use up to 1,000 square kilometres. While it is important to secure their key habitats through Protected Areas, it simply isn’t enough. Many of the families living in snow leopard habitat are herders who live on less than $2 per day and depend on their livestock for food and income. The snow leopard occasionally attacks and kills livestock, and members of these low-income communities sometimes resort to retaliation killings or poaching of snow leopards to protect their herds of livestock or earn extra money.

Livestock Insurance

Our livestock insurance program helps rural communities reduce the financial impact of snow leopard predation by giving them access to compensation for animals lost.

For the families who share the snow leopard’s habitat, the loss of even a single animal to predation can create great financial hardship. Occasionally, herders may may retaliate against snow leopards to protect their animals and limit their losses.

Through our livestock insurance program, the local community manages an insurance pools specifically designated to reimburse families who lose domestic animals to snow leopard predation.” Read more at https://www.snowleopard.org/our-work/conservation-programs/livestock-insurance/

You can book an Up-close Personal Encounter with Billabong Zoo’s magnificent Ambassador Snow Leopards (you need to book  in advance) or attend a Zoo Keeper talk – free, daily at 4.15pm. Further information:  http://billabongzoo.com.au/portfolio-item/snow-leopards/  

Photo: the leaping Snow Leopard photo was captured at Billabong Zoo by Jennifer Baker.