The third role of the GSMP’s is to facilitate the most effective use of ex situ resources, expertise and skills to support in situ activities and solve in situ problems. The benefits of this is that by having ex situ practitioners working together with in situ is that it gives new perspectives to problems and therefore the ability to develop new solutions to them. The international zoo community has great knowledge and experience of which generally are not found as much in field conservationist are in animal husbandry and environmental education. There are three ways that the GSMP is currently working to facilitate this role:
- Community awareness and engagement
- Partnerships with national parks
- Supporting rescue and rehabilitation
Supporting Rescue and Hehabilitation
A primary aim of the Anoa and Babirusa GSMP’s is to support Directorate Biodiversity Conservation (KKH), Nature Conservation Regional Offices (KSDA) and National Parks in the Sulawesi region to provide expertise to their staffs, and provide small resources, such as crates, or small enclosures. The actions that have been agreed to be implemented are:
- Support for rescued Anoa and Babirusa in Sulawesi: Zoo community to provide technical assistance, and guidelines for husbandry, medical treatment, and transfers for confiscated or injured Anoa and Babirusa on Sulawesi.
The actions proposed include:
- Provide training for government staff in transportation, husbandry, urgent medical attention, and decision-making for future role of animal. To also share Anoa husbandry guidelines that will be produced by the GSMP
- Support Nature Conservation Regional Offices (KSDA) to set up small simple (semipermanent) facilities, so that confiscated wild Anoa can be held and treated in the short term
- Provide expertise and input to E-PASS project (Enhancing the Protected Areas System in Sulawesi for Biodiversity Conservation) (http://epassindonesia.org/en/kabupaten-bone-bolango-sasaran-program-epass/) that is setting up a wildlife unit and anti-poaching crime team.
This includes assistance to the Manado Research Centre: this centre holds seven Anoa, and is already receiving support from Leipzig Zoo, Germany specifically, to support with providing veterinary knowledge on Anoa and support improvement of husbandry.
Community Awareness and Engagement
Local communities in range areas play an essential role in the conservation of wild populations. Their awareness, understanding, interest and active involvement may be crucial in the success of projects. Skills and resources needed for community-based conservation initiatives overlap to a high degree with education, awareness and outreach work that zoos do. Many zoos around the world have strong education and learning departments with trained and dedicated staff, learning facilities, interpretation materials, and conservation-focussed signage. These zoos could make an important contribution to in situ conservation if they share these resources and skills with local authorities, National Park offices, NGOs or other projects and initiatives. The following areas of work are what the GSMP’s are focused on when dealing with community awareness and engagement:
- Capacity building for education work by local/provincial conservation authorities. Protected area management offices (provincial or local authorities, National Parks offices) often use education only as a minor part of their work and often have less skills and resources available. Most work concentrates on socialisation regarding the prevention of hunting, for example also in combination with patrolling local communities. Often staff members are not trained in education, but come from the biology sector or other professional areas, or are field rangers. Assisting these authorities in improving the educational skills of their staff and increasing the variety and quality of audiences, tools and strategies, would be a very useful contribution by zoos.
- Assisting with strategic planning for conservation education. Few in situ conservation authorities have strategic educational plans, and zoos can help with designing these. Educational staff of zoos can give feedback on specific programmes, their aims, methods and evaluation.
- Exchange between zoos and local/international NGOs. The few NGOs working on nature conservation on Sulawesi (e.g. Alliance for Tompotika Conservation, Salamatkan Yaki, Yayasan Adudu Nantu Internasional), are primarily engaged in education and awareness work and subsequently already have very good skills in education. Nevertheless, an exchange with these organisations can only be beneficial for both sides.
- Assist in the design and implementation of visitor centres. Finally, for bigger offices, such as provincial conservation authorities or National Park headquarters, visitor centres may plan a major role in public awareness. The design of centres with effective conservation education could be assisted by zoos.
- Further areas of potential collaborations may be investigated during field surveys.
Partnerships with National Parks
The international zoo community has built up a large amount of knowledge in the intensive management of Banteng because of the long time period which they have been held in zoos, a relatively large population size, and the research and day to day management that is available to manage them. This knowledge includes the following topics: husbandry, breeding, transportation, enrichment, behaviour, and medical. Some of this information has been recorded in the AZA Husbandry Manual for Wild Cattle Species while other information is held in individual zoos with the keepers and curators.
Javan Banteng are primarily found in four national parks in Java (Baluran NP, Alas Purwo NP, Meru Batiri NP, and Ujong Kulon NP). For all four of these parks the primary focus is on in situ management of Banteng, as opposed to ex situ management. Additionally, there are a number of small groups of Banteng found outside of the national parks on Java. These animals occur in plantations that are not connected to national park populations, and are sometimes regarded as ‘conflict animals’ due the danger they seem to pose to humans. For these reasons, the concept of rescuing “conflict animals” through capture and placement into the Indonesian ex situ population should be considered. One such rescue was conducted in 2007 when 20 animals were captured inside a plantation and relocated to Taman Safari. The Banteng GSMP can conduct capacity building in Indonesia to improve effective and safe capture and restraint (manual and chemical), transfer and veterinary treatment of animals. Not only ex situ management requires these expert skills, but also in situ conservation translocations or translocations of conflict animals in situ. Conflict animals in situ show high levels of stress and high mortality after capture. Local paramedics called to problem sites usually do not have wildlife veterinary skills. For training events, first there will be fact-finding on where information gaps are, followed by tailored training delivered by teams of experienced Indonesian and international zoo veterinarians. Protocols and guidelines will be established to assist dealing with problem animals and other required captures, restraints and translocations.
Baluran National Park is unique in that it does not only hold a small wild population of Banteng, they also hold a small herd in a managed breeding facility inside the national park. These animals have been included in the breeding and transfer recommendations for the ex situ population in Indonesia. This breeding facility holds a great potential for the ex situ management of Banteng in Indonesia. The short and long term plans for this facility and programme within Baluran National Park need to be explored further to determine if there is the potential for expansion of this for the ex situ population. It is possible that Baluran National Park could incorporate an area to receive rescued animals within their managed breeding area. The release of animals from this breeding centre into the national park to add new genetic diversity to the wild population is a possibility that can also be explored.
Also, in the near future there may be the need for more intensive management of Banteng in order to conserve the species. The Banteng population on Java is now found in small isolated populations primarily in national parks. These populations may need to be managed more intensively for multiple reasons. For example, if there is significant pressure from hunting, Dhole predation, loss of suitable habitat; which cannot be adequately prevented, then removal of animals to a safer location is an option. Because of the loss of genetic diversity in small populations, these may not be viable in the long-term. In order to increase their chances of survival transfer of Banteng between small populations may thus be necessary to increase their likelihood of survival. In summary, there may be the need for more intensive management in the future, so staff working in Banteng range areas would benefit from expertise to help in animal management.