Six months ago we held a one of a kind event at London Zoo in aid of the Zoological Society of London’s (ZSL) EDGE of Existence programme and the unique and endangered species it works to conserve. We had penguins and champagne, llamas and cocktails and a bicycle rickshaw ride around the zoo.
A lot has happened in the six months since the event- over £80,000 was raised from the event with the majority of this going to support EDGE’s Fellowship programme. In January 2013, ZSL welcomed eight new EDGE Fellows, all of whom work for in-country NGO’s. With ongoing support from ZSL, the new Fellows will tackle conservation issues for some of the most neglected EDGE species, including the Horastrea coral in Madagascar and the Togo slippery frog in Ghana.
Already the fellows have been hard at work. Two months ago Abdullahi Hussein Ali led the first ever GPS collaring on the hirola, the world’s rarest antelope, in Northern Kenya. Collars record the location of each individual every three hours throughout the year, allowing Ali to collect vital information about their movement patterns and enabling more targeted future conservation efforts.
The EDGE event raised donations for 2 specific species; the Sagalla caecilian and the pygmy three-toed sloth, enabling an injection of much-valued funds and activity.
The pygmy three-toed sloth is the smallest (arguably the cutest) and most threatened sloth species in the world, and despite rapid population demise to fewer than 200 individuals, has received virtually no targeted conservation. The EDGE project is working with local communities and Panamanian authorities to develop a better scientific foundation to inform action, including threats facing the pygmy sloth. The project is also using the pygmy sloth as a flagship species to highlight the threats posed to the habitat of Isla Escudo de Veraguas, Panama, in particular developing alternatives to hunting and mangrove extraction.
The Sagalla caecilian may look like a blue worm but it is in fact a limbless amphibian! The Sagalla caecilian resides in just one small area of South-eastern Kenya and again, similar to the pygmy sloth, has received very little conservation attention. ZSL is supporting a local community- based conservation organisation, Taita Taveta Wildlife Forum (TTWF), in restoring the habitat of the Sagalla caecilian. So far, more than 23,000 indigenous tree seedlings have been bred and planted, with a further 20,000 due to be planted by the end of this year in areas of degraded forest. This is turn will improve the environmental sustainability and help protect wildlife in Tsavo National Park, of which Sagalla Hill forms part of the watershed.