The art of conservation

21 July 2016

Local artist helps boost park's conservation initiative.

It may surprise you to learn that we do not have a conservation officer employed here at the park. Instead, the animal keepers have taken it upon themselves to assemble a committee to steer conservation of wild animals in a direction of their choosing. The keeping staff at the park are as passionate to ensure the wild counterparts of the animals they look after can thrive in much the same regards as the ones held here in Scotland. During the close season last winter, the keepers came together, and with the backing of the park management, born an initiative that would allow their desires for in-situ conservation to be satisfied. Their new conservation arm is aptly named ‘Link To The Wild’. Through strong messaging, generating awareness and support, visitors to the park are easily swayed and gladly support projects forwarded by the keepers. The elected projects are agreed upon by a committee vote. This year there are 9 projects that the keepers have pledged to support.

The keepers are quite savvy and coy in seeking out conservation initiatives that will get maximum bang for the visitors buck. Instead of simply fundraising for the more obvious larger animal charities, the keepers elect smaller projects where a little will go a long way. All donations go straight into the hands of field ecologists or buy essential equipment needed to fund small projects that conserve vulnerable species. To promote ‘Link To The Wild’, the keepers put on special animal themed awareness weekends. At these events there are fun activities and lots of prizes for visitors to win.

This weekend is Tiger themed, to help with the fundraising, local artist Stephanie McKenzie of Gargunnock generously donated two framed prints of Blair Drummond’s tigers, Genghis and Bella, these will be raffled off as part of the prize pool generating much needed funds for ‘Link To The Wild’.

Education Officer, Dave Warren says

“The formation of Link To The Wild is a fantastic opportunity for the Keepers to have a say and support species of their choosing. We can make a little go a long way and get involved with some really clever worthwhile projects. As our visitors go round the park they will hear good news stories at each section learning how we are helping wild animals across the globe. Not all of the money goes overseas, for example we ensure our population of Red squirrels remains well fed and healthy throughout the year, and this spring we have been involved with a pioneering monitoring project of the much understudied goshawk – two sibling chicks from a nest close to the safari park were fitted with satellite tags in order to monitor movement, interaction with landscape features and breeding success. The project is being coordinated by Dave Anderson (Forestry Commission Scotland) and the Scottish Raptor Study Group.”

From the UK to Uganda, rhino poaching patrols to re-wilding rainforests, Link To The Wild covers a variety of conservation projects all of which are detailed on the park’s website, blairdrummond.com/conservation. Information on animal events is found on the park’s social media channels.