Global Species Management Plans

Please click on the following link to download the GSMP Fact Sheet (395 KB).

In preparation for the 2003 mid-year meeting of the then Committee for Inter-Regional Conservation Cooperation, its chair Jonathan Wilcken developed a visionary proposal for what he called Global Captive Management Programs. At the 58th WAZA Annual Conference on 20 November 2003 in San José (Costa Rica), a document on procedures and responsibilities for inter-regional ex situ management programmes was unanimously adopted by the plenary. This was the birth of what is today referred to as Global Species Management Plans (GSMPs), held under the auspices of the now called Committee for Population Management.

GSMPs are born out of growing concerns about the long-term sustainability of wild animal populations in human care. To fulfil the full suite of conservation roles required of animals in zoos and aquariums, they must be demographically robust and genetically representative of wild counterparts. Many species will be able to sustain these characteristics for the foreseeable future only when cooperatively managed at a global level (see WAZA Magazine 12: Towards Sustainable Population Management). A GSMP involves the management of a particular taxon with a globally agreed set of goals, while building upon and respecting existing regional processes.

The first application to establish a GSMP, submitted for the southern ground hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri) by Tracy Rehse from the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa on 19 June 2007, was deferred. The application to establish a combined GSMP for African and Asian elephants (Loxodonta africana and Elephas maximus), submitted by Harald Schwammer from Vienna Zoo (Austria), was approved on 25 August 2007; however, this GSMP was discontinued on 17 July 2012.

The longest still running GSMP was approved for the Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) on 18 October 2008, convened by first Sarah Christie and then Malcolm Fitzpatrick from the Zoological Society of London (UK); the continuation of this GSMP was re-approved on 3 October 2012. Another GSMP was approved for the Javan gibbon (Hylobates moloch) on 5 October 2009, convened by first Leif Cocks and then Clare Campbell from Perth Zoo (Australia); however, this GSMP was discontinued on 23 September 2013.

Three additional GSMPs were approved on 3 October 2012: red panda (Ailurus fulgens) convened by Janno Weerman from Rotterdam Zoo (The Netherlands); blue-crowned laughingthrush (Dryonastes courtoisi) convened by Mark Myers from Woodland Park Zoo (USA); and Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) co-convened by Tara Harris from Minnesota Zoo (USA) and Alla Glukhova from Moscow Zoo (Russia). Additional GSMPs were subsequently approved: Goodfellow’s tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus goodfellowi) on 4 February 2013, convened by Claire Ford from the Zoo and Aquarium Association (Australasia) and Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) on 10 April 2013, co-convened by first Sarah Christie and then Jo Cook from the Zoological Society of London (UK) and Tanya Arzhanova from Moscow Zoo (Russia).

Another three GSMPs were approved on 16 March 2016: anoa (Bubalus depressicornis and Bubalus quarlesi) convened by Terry Hornsey from Africa Alive! (UK); banteng (Bos javanicus) convened by Ivan Chandra from Taman Safari (Indonesia); and babirusa (Babyrousa sp.) convened by Joe Forys from Audubon Nature Institute (USA). Applications to establish GSMPs for a number of other taxa are currently being developed.

It has taken some time for the concept of GSMPs to gain momentum within the world zoo and aquarium community: four years from establishing the concept to approving the first GSMP, with nine working GSMPs another nine years later. Nevertheless, the anticipated establishment of more and more GSMPs gives testimony to how important the judicious development of inter-regional collaboration has been over the last 10+ years. The current shift from a regional to a global population management framework is a change as significant as the move from institutional to regional species management in the 1980s and 1990s.

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is the global alliance of regional associations, national federations, zoos and aquariums, dedicated to the care and conservation of animals and their habitats around the world.

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