CBSG/RSG South Asia & SAZARC 2005

The South Asian Zoo Association for Regional Cooperation SAZARC closed its Sixth Annual meeting at an informal but enthusiastic Valedictory ceremony at Karl Kubel Institute at Anaikatti, Coimbatore on 5th December, and sent participants to different quarters of India to visit various well-managed zoos of the country. Representatives from zoos of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and resource persons from South Africa, United Kingdom, USA and India attended the conference and took part in training, working groups and other deliberations from 1-5 December 2005. SAZARC is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums since 2005.

CBSG / RSG South Asia --Immediately preceeding the SAZARC meeting, there was a joint meeting of the South Asian networks of the IUCN SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group and the IUCN SSC Reintroduction Specialist Group at the same venue. About two thirds of SAZARC participants were able to attend along with other wildlife specialists from far corners of India. Pre-announced Working Group themes were :
South Asian perspective on Rehabilitation Guidelines for IUCN SSC RSG
Troubled Translocations – with particular regard to primates
Substandard Zoos

Participants heard a variety of presentations ranging from what CBSG and RSG are to the problems and actions taken by individuals and organizations in South Asia on the topics related to reintroduction and captive breeding. Attendance from far-ranging states as Manipur, Himachal Pradesh, and Assam in India as well as from the countries Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka made for diverse experiences and an exciting meeting. The attendance of Mike Jordan, Curator of Mammals, Chester Zoo who has been tasked with creating global guidelines for rehabilitation of captive animals to the wild was welcome, both for his experience and expertise in reintroduction as Regional Chair RSG for Europe and Central Asia and in the subject area of small mammals.
The CBSG/RSG meeting was wholly sponsored by the Chester Zoological Gardens.

After an informal inaugural and introductions of participants, training topics for the week were introduced by Karin Schwartz for Records Management and Sanjay Molur for Primate Taxonomy. Aasim Turk from the International Species Information System support staff joined later to introduce ISIS’ new Zoo Information Management System ZIMS. In the afternoon, participants heard three exciting presentations by visiting Resource Persons, Brendan Whitington-Jones speaking about rebuilding the war torn zoos of Baghdad and Kabul; Dave Morgan, President of the African Zoo Association, speaking of their pan-African zoo improvement programme, and Mike Jordan speaking of the diversity and decline of the world’s non-volant small mammals.

Zoo visits
During the Conference participants visited the VOC Park Zoo led by the Director, Dr. S.Thirukumaran and afterward treated to drinks and dinner at an “Open House” by Zoo Outreach Organisation. Participants visited the site of the Coimbatore Zoological Park Society, admired the variety of endemic and endangered plants which had been reared in anticipation of the avante garde enclosures which will mimic the forest types of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (deciduous forest, shola forest, etc.) one by one after creating a botanic garden in the center of the land which is to open to the public in early 2006. This visit was followed by a social hour and festive dinner hosted by the Coimbatore Zoological Park Society. Shopping in one of the best shopping areas in the city and dinner at the famous Annapoorna Restaurant to sample traditional South Indian dishes including the Tamil Nadu specialty, the six foot “family dosa” provided a welcome break after some very long, hard days in training and in working groups.

Participant presentations covered a variety of topics from single subjects and problems to more wide ranging presentations covering all zoo activities.

Working groups for SAZARC participants dealt with a complex set of inter-related issues addressing
how zoos in South Asia could contribute to in situ conservation as per the definition of the World Zoo and Aquarium Conservation Strategy of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums WAZA.
how SAZARC could address the issue of needy, unaware and/or unprincipled zoos in their own region, and
SAZARC participants’ perspective on the new WAZA Welfare and Ethics Committee working group to address the world’s substandard zoos.
Many of the recommendations of these working groups as well as from the participant presentations and the training topics are reflected in the SAZARC 2006 Resolutions which will be circulated subsequently.

2006 plans : Participants agreed a series of activities in lieu of the usual Annual Conference.
To send a representative from each South Asian country to the August 2006 South East Asian Zoo Association (SEAZA) Annual Conference in Vietnam in keeping with the policy of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums WAZA on cooperation between regional zoo associations.
To organize a country-wise national level zoo event such as a training or seminar during 2006 on some important aspect of zoo management in order to include more individuals and thus strengthen their national zoo community.
To depute knowledgeable zoo experts of SAZARC to visit the war-damaged Kabul Zoo periodically to give training and review improvements in collaboration with the North Carolina Zoological Park Kabul Zoo rehabilitation programme.
To organize a visit of a SAZARC delegation to strengthen the relationship already established with Zoo Outreach Organisation and the Kabul Zoo in Afghanistan.

The sponsors of the SAZARC meeting this year (either by direct donation or by sponsoring a resource person’s air fare) were
Global sponsors :
Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, United Kingdom;
Chester Zoo, Upton-on-Chester, United Kingdom,
Lord Robin Russell/Woburn Safari Park, United Kingdom
Paignton Zoo, Devon, United Kingdom

European Association of Zoos and Aquariums, EAZA, Netherlands
Apenheul Primate Park Conservation Trust, Netherlands

Twycross Zoo, United Kingdom; St. Louis Zoo, USA
Thrigby Hall, United Kingdom; North Carolina Zoo, USA
Disney’s Animal Park, Florida, USA
Cleveland Metro Park Zoo, USA
Milwaukee County Zoo, USA
St. Louis Zoo, Missouri, USA
International Species Information System, USA
IUCN SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, USA

Schombrun Zoo, Vienna, Austria
Koln Zoo, Germany
Allwetter Zoo, Muenster, Germany

Metro-Toronto Zoo, Canada

Regional sponsors were
Le Shark, Tirpur, Tamil Nadu
National Zoo of Sri Lanka, Dehiwala, Sri Lanka
Punjab Wildlife Department and WWF, Pakistan, Pakistan
Coimbatore Zoological Park Society, India
Annapoorna Restaurant, Coimbatore
Zoo Outreach Organisation.

SAZARC 2005 Resolutions

SAZARC 2005 Committee Reports and 2006 Meeting Plans

Reports of the two meetings will be published in ZOOS’ PRINT magazine, CBSG News and Reintro Redeux, and uploaded onto the ZOO website.

A CD containing the Report, all presentations, and a selection of photographs will be prepared for participants, invitees who could not come, resource persons and donors and sent (hopefully) before January 2006.