Res­cue projects for just four species at­tracted hun­dreds of mil­lions of pounds. Could that money have been bet­ter spent?

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Conservati­on Choices -


The world’s only flight­less par­rot, maade fa­mous by Dou­glas Adams and Markk Car­war­dine’s 1990 book Last Chance e to See, still finds it­self on the brink. In 2012, af­ter over 45 years of in­ten­sive con­ser­va­tion efff­fort, its pop­u­la­tion was just 126.


This big cat is un­doubt­edly the most ex­pen­sive an­i­mal on the IUCN Red List, com­mand­ing £30 mil­lion ev­ery year. Yet even this fig­ure may prove not enough. In 2010 sci­en­tists re­ported that, to achieve the aim of con­nect­ing up patches of habi­tat in the large land­scapes in which tigers thrive, that fig­ure may need to be in­creased to nearer £50 mil­lion.


Widely cited as the USA’s most ex­pen­sive con­ser­va­tion project, the Cal­i­for­nia con­dor res­cue has, in just 30 years, boosted the species from be­ing ex­tinct in the wild to num­ber­ing about 400 free-fly­ing in­di­vid­u­als in two pop­u­la­tions.


At present 47 gi­ant pan­das live in cap­tiv­ity out­side China. In­ter­na­tional zoos have prob­a­bly paid in ex­cess of £100 mil­lion over the past 10 years for the priv­i­lege of host­ing them, and China has also spent sub­stan­tial funds on cap­tive breed­ing and con­ser­va­tion. But there are doubts about the ef­fi­cacy of th­ese ef­forts.

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