Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria

South-East Asian Conservation Action Specialist Advisory Group

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Convenor: Chris Banks, Melbourne Zoo

In 1992/3 it was agreed that the primary region for offshore conservation involvement for ARAZPA zoos should be South-East Asia.  South-East Asia was chosen for its close proximity to the Australasian region, and abundant range of species and environments crying out for support

The South-East Asian Specialist Advisory Group's main aims are: 

  • To provide a central co-ordination and communication for all projects between Australasian zoos and organisations in South-East Asia.
  • Maximise the effectiveness of Australasian zoo participation in South-East Asia through communication and co-operation.

Such entities need supportive people and structures, and we have an enormous regional capacity to work with our zoo-based colleagues in South-East Asia, particularly within SEAZA, to assist their development of their own programs. Indeed, this is an important tenet of the World Zoo Conservation Strategy.

Another critical ingredient to this issue is that South-East Asia is neither one homogenous culture, nor, of course, one country. Even within each country, there is a rich diversity of beliefs, lifestyles, and bureaucracies, an understanding of and sensitivity towards which is essential to the successful outcome of any conservation program. This develops over time, and hence, one of the SEACAG's major roles is to ensure that all ARAZPA members are informed of projects past and present, and can offer advice on those being planned.


The aims of the SEACAG are:

  • Communicate with all Institutional Members of ARAZPA to outline the purpose and aims of the SEACAG.
  • Communicate with all Institutional Members of ARAZPA to ascertain their interest in involvement with South-East Asian conservation programs - both flora and fauna.
  • Identify and recommend projects which ARAZPA member institutions might undertake jointly.
  • Ensure that ARAZPA institutions undertaking projects in South-East Asia are aware of any relevant cultural or political issues in that country.
  • Ensure that ARAZPA institutions embarking on projects in South-East Asia are made aware of all other ARAZPA zoo projects being undertaken.
  • Involve relevant wildlife authorities (EA/Department of Conservation) where appropriate.
  • Publish an update of all projects between ARAZPA and South-East Asia regularly in the ARAZPA newsletter.
  • Establish the SEACAG Specialist Contact as the primary point of contact in the region for information relating to ARAZPA conservation projects in South-East Asia.
  • Ensure regular communication with the ARAZPA Executive and that all relevant decisions are ratified by the ARAZPA Board before being implemented.
  • Liaise with ARAZPA's other Specialist Groups

Some of the Projects being conducted in South East Asia by ARAZPA Institutions include:

Protection of Asian Turtles, supported by ARAZPA member zoos

Many species of Asian turtles are facing extinction. The greatest threat to these turtles is the illegal trade in wildlife, primarily for food. The primary in situ focus is the Turtle Conservation & Ecology Project in Cuc Phuong National Park, Vietnam. Funds raised at Melbourne Zoo have funded publication of a manual to assist wildlife enforcement in China. Matt Vincent, Senior Keeper at Melbourne Zoo, represents ARAZPA on the Turtle Survival Alliance.  More recently funds raised by Perth Zoo will assist in the building of fences for breeding enclosures.  The Cuc Phuong Turtle Conservation Centre is endorsed and supported by the ARAZPA Wildlife Conservation Fund.


Philippine Crocodile Recovery Plan, in association with Melbourne Zoo

 The World Conservation Union recognises the Philippine Crocodile as the most threatened species of crocodile in the world.  It was previously distributed throughout many parts of the Philippines, but the only viable breeding population left is in north-east Luzon. Melbourne Zoo is working with PLAN International and local communities to support conservation of the species in that area.  The Philippine Crocodile Recovery Plan was published in December 2000 and its  implementation is overseen by the Philippine Crocodile National Recovery Team.  Chris Banks, Curator of Herpetofauna at Melbourne Zoo, is the International Co-ordinator on the Recovery Team. For more information on this project visit the Melbourne Zoo web site's conservation pages.


Endangered Primate Rescue Centre, Vietnam

The illegal wildlife trade is also prevalent in primates. The Endangered Primate Rescue Centre in Vietnam looks after those primates confiscated by the authorities. Funding provided by a range of organisations, particularly Melbourne Zoo, supports a range of initiatives at the Centre. It also helps to support Vietnamese enforcement initiatives and promotes public education and awareness. The Centre is a model for protection and rehabilitation of confiscated primates and is endorsed by ARAZPA's Primate TAG.


Silvery Gibbon Project, Perth Zoo

The Silvery Gibbon Project was formed in 1991 by staff and volunteers at Perth Zoo. These people were concerned with the plight of the Silvery Gibbon and its diminishing habitat in Java. The Silvery Gibbon Project has an on-going commitment to the Gunung Halimun National Park, where about 100 Silvery Gibbons still survive. The construction of an entrance gate and a 10km hiking trail in the Park have already been completed. The Project is also involved in the funding of a Javan Gibbon Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre. This Centre aims to rehabilitate pet gibbons and serve as a resource for educational programs and possible reintroduction efforts, should the latter be considered necessary to ensure the survival of this species.

The Silvery Gibbon project has been endorsed and received support from the ARAZPA Wildlife Conservation Fund under the Great Ape Campaign.


Sumatran Elephant Conservation supported by Adelaide Zoo

The Sumatran Elephant is classified as endangered by the IUCN Red Data List. One of the greatest concerns for elephant conservationists is elephant/human conflict. Elephants periodically raid farming areas to feed on high protein crops such as corn and as a result, much resentment is created amongst farming communities. Adelaide Zoo together with Taronga Zoo participated in a workshop hosted by Taman Safari Indonesia in 2000 to discuss issues associated with the conservation of the Sumatran Elephant and the proposal to set up a Sumatran Elephant Conservation Fund, in conjunction with all interested stakeholders a . Financial support for the workshop was also made available by Melbourne Zoo and Auckland Zoo. Progress towards setting up such a conservation fund continues with a more regional approach. Adelaide Zoo maintains links with workshop participants and supports the continued progress towards in-situ conservation programs associated with the Sumatran Elephant.

At the request of Fauna and Flora International, Melbourne Zoo has agreed to support a range of small projects for Sumatran Elephants. These projects mainly involve elephants in, or displaced from, the troubled province of Aceh. About AU$18,000 will be made available for workshops, for equipment, facilities and supplies for elephant managers. This money has been raised through the sale paintings by Melbourne Zoo's two elephants, Bong Su and Mek Kapah. The first installment has been paid to part fund the Workshop on Captive Sumatran Elephant Management held in Palembang, South Sumatra, on June 3 and 4, 2002.


Conservation of Philippine Frogs

The conservation status of Philippine frogs remains poorly known and Melbourne Zoo co-ordinated the first nationwide assessment in 1999, which led to 30 additional species being listed in the latest IUCN Red Data Book, as well as by Philippine agencies. In 2000, a pilot project to increase community awareness of frogs, funded by Melbourne Zoo and the Durrell Conservation Trust, was delivered in southern Luzon. A field survey for the Critically Endangered Negros Cave Frog, was supported by Melbourne and Chester Zoos in 2001.


Recovery of the Philippine Spotted Deer

The Philippine Spotted Deer is the most threatened species of deer in the world and is now confined to three forest patches on two islands in the southern Philippines. Melbourne Zoo has been supporting local conservation breeding centres on Negros and Panay Islands since 1996, and is a signatory to a Memorandum of Agreement covering the Panay Island population. Plans are in place to import captive-bred deer from the USA, but transfer of deer to the US has been delayed. This program is endorsed by ARAZPA's Artiodactyl TAG, with six zoos committing to provide spaces.

The Philippine Spotted Deer Program has been  endorsed by the ARAZPA Wildlife Conservation Fund.


Infrastructure support for Saigon Zoo

Melbourne Zoo was represented on the CBSG Masterplan Team for Saigon Zoo, Vietnam, from 1993-97 and is continuing to assist managers at Saigon Zoo to implement the Masterplan. This has focussed on development of an Education Service at the Zoo, as well as teacher exchanges, but also advice on exhibit designs and provision of literature.

Associated web sites:

Asian Turtle Crisis based at Cuc Phuong National Park

Endangered  Primate Rescue Centre, also at Cuc Phuong

Philippine frogs

Silvery Gibbons

Membership Eligibility: Membership to the South East Asian Conservation Specialist Advisory Group is open to Full Individual members of ARAZPA and staff of Full Institutional members of ARAZPA.
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