Celebrating the Wonders of our Natural World...






sign up for
email updates

  • AAZA-logo

Conservation Grant Awardees

Helping Conservation Worldwide

For a zoo our size it is unusual to have a wildlife conservation fund…but we do. We’ve had one since 1985 thanks to John Boyles and Dick Faber. Each year we look for projects where our small grants go a long way and make a big difference. We’d like to congratulate all the dedicated people who applied this year for the great work they do and thank our Footsteps sponsors and donors who make this Fund possible.

2014 John Ball Zoo Wildlife Conservation Grant Recipients

Identifying South African Cavity Nesters Most Vulnerable to the Loss of Large Trees

Many birds like rollers, hornbills, and hoopoes build their nests in holes or cavities pre-existing in trees. Usually these are the larger, more mature trees that are more likely to be logged or cut down to produce charcoal. This project aims to create a model that can be replicated in other parts of the world to identify the bird species most vulnerable to the loss of these older trees. The project will use nest boxes in different configurations (quartets, trios, pairs, and single boxes) to sort out the competitive relationships among the various species of cavity nesters. The project will provide results information and recommendations to the scientific community, government agencies, and NGO's tasked with implementing land use policies in sensitive semi-arid landscapes vulnerable to tree removal. This project is occurring in South Africa but the researcher is also doing the same experimental model in Kenya, Namibia, and India.
Principal Investigator-Dr. Mark Stanback, Davidson College

Reducing Freshwater Turtle Deaths from Fishing Entanglement in India by Developing Alternative Fishing Methods

India is one of the world's hot spots for chelonian diversity, representing around 30 species of freshwater turtles and land tortoises, including two of the world's 25 most imperiled freshwater turtles and tortoises and one of the world's 40 most endangered freshwater turtle species. However, India also suffers from severe poverty with 68.72% of its population living below the international poverty line. Consequently, many Indian communities who live near freshwater turtle habitat have turned to fishing, sand mining the riverbanks, riparian agriculture, and turtle poaching to sustain themselves.
A need exists to address the problem of turtles getting caught and drowning in villagers' fishing nets which are typically monofilament gill. This project aims to help reduce turtle mortality by: (1) identifying alternative types of fishing nets that will reduce turtle by catch but are equally effective at capturing fish, (2) obtaining such nets by working with net manufacturers in the United States, and (3) working with Turtle Survival Alliance to deploy the nets and monitor their success.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Shailendra Singh, National Resources Defense Council

Increasing Local Awareness About the Ecological Importance of Gishwati Forest Reserve, Rwanda

Gishwati Forest Reserve (GFR) is a natural forest located in western part of Rwanda. This forest shelters endangered primates and plays a major role in provisioning other ecosystem services including fresh water in the region. However, local people continue to destroy it in search of minerals, wild meat, firewood, grass for cows, charcoal, timber, and bean poles.
Forest of Hope Association (FHA) is a local Non-Government Organization (NGO) whose objective is to increase local awareness about the ecological importance of GFR by focusing on the role of primates, birds and insects in forest maintenance; the role of the forest in water purification, maintenance and provisioning; and the role of the forest in agricultural productivity. To implement this project, they will use different techniques including development of education materials, trainings, and awareness campaigns. Their hope is by raising local awareness about the ecological importance of the forest and its biodiversity the pressure on the forest resources will reduce.
Principal Investigator-Thierry Aimable Inzirayineze, Forest of Hope Association

Community Mobilization for Wildlife Rescue-Phase II

Loss of habitat is one of the major reasons for increasing incidents of human -wildlife conflict resulting in loss of precious wildlife in Rajasthan. Leopard populations have declined significantly as a result of these conflicts. The goals of the project are to: generate awareness about wildlife conservation among rural and village youth, motivate and generate active participation of youth and students, promote formation of Wildlife Clubs in schools, impart intensive training on human wildlife conflict mitigation and rescue preparedness to Club members and teachers, develop a database of trained members, forest officials, administration and media to work together during rescues, develop Wildlife Clubs as the role model and share its results for further replication for wildlife conservation.
The project is a step towards creating a sustainable model for a community participatory wildlife conservation program to protect biodiversity in Jaipur region through education and capacity development of the community by providing solutions for mitigating human-wildlife conflicts.
Principal Investigator-Manish Saxena, Director-WORLD Organization