White-footed Tamarin International Conservation Programme
To promote the survival of white-footed tamarins in Colombia both in situ and ex situ
The white-footed tamarin (Saguinus leucopus) is endemic to Colombia and is threatened by illegal trade in wild specimens and habitat destruction, while protection measures are scarce. All white-footed tamarins in human care, housed at rescue centres for animals confiscated by the local authorities and at Colombian zoos (no specimens are kept outside of Colombia), show several general husbandry problems and consequently high mortality rates. No successful births (surviving to more than one year of age) were ever recorded in Colombian zoos until 2005.
One confiscated animal per week arrives at each rescue centre in the distribution range of the species. This level of depletion will lead to the species' extinction if nothing is done. The situation is thus dramatic for the long-term survival of the white-footed tamarin.
The programme essentially tries to reach the following goals:
- Determine the species' distribution, density, genetics and health in such a way that potential and priority areas for conservation can be identified.
- Determine the causes of mortality and analyse information regarding the death of animals in human care.
- Establish a breeding programme in Colombia, building appropriate facilities for this purpose and organising workshops to improve housing conditions (general husbandry, nutrition, environmental enrichment, etc.).
- Export animals raised in human care in the frame of this breeding programme in such a way that a breeding programme in Europe can be established.
- Continue reintroductions into their natural habitat of animals confiscated by the Colombian authorities, according to the protocol created by IUCN and considering the biological characteristics of the species.
- Follow-up on reintroduced animals using radio transmitters.
- Evaluate the illegal trade in wild species, especially concerning the white-footed tamarin.
- Plan solutions for the illegal trade in wild species through educational programmes aimed at local communities, making them aware of this conservation problem and searching for alternative sources of income, which will allow local people to abandon the current exploitation of wildlife resources.
WAZA Conservation Project 11001 is implemented by Beauval Zoo as the international coordinator, ACOPAZOA (Colombian Association of Zoos and Aquaria) as the local coordinator and the EAZA Callitrichid TAG as the umbrella entity. Support is provided by Apenheul, Belfast Zoo, Bristol Zoological Gardens, CERZA, Colchester Zoo, BioParc de Doué-la-Fontaine, Faunia, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, Zoo de La Palmyre, Zoological Society of London, Parc Zoologique et Botanique de Mulhouse, Parc Merveilleux, La Vallée des Singes, Zodiac Zoos, Baranquilla Zoo, Cali Zoo, Santa Cruz Zoo, Piscillago Zoo, Santafe Zoo, CAFAM and Matecaña Zoo. Other stakeholders involved in the project include CEPA (France), IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group and Wildlife Conservation Society..
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