Feline Conservation Federation

RSF supports PAAZAB at sponsor level

January 2009 - The T.I.G.E.R.S. and FCF operated Rare Species Fund joined the African Association of Zoos and Aquaria (PAAZAB) at the three-year sponsor level. This commitment level sends $1,200 of much needed financial support to the fledgling African zoo association.

The FCF member expertise in feline husbandry, our ability to help raise awareness in the US of the captive conservation issues in Africa, and potential additional financial support our individual members can generate will further benefit PAAZAB.

By helping support this association's efforts to improve African zoo collection management, captive animal husbandry, and public educational messages, FCF is doing its part to help educate the citizens of this continent to appreciate the wealth of their wildlife diversity and the threats to its continued existence in Africa.

On the continent where millions of wildebeest make an annual migration of several hundred miles, covering a huge swath of two countries, accompanied by zebra and other plains game, almost 99 percent of all African youth will never see any of the animals in their natural habitat.

Sad to say, most of them do not live close to a zoo or other wildlife facility where they might see and learn. Even if they did, most of the zoos across the continent are relics of colonial times. Nearly all of them are in disrepair with animals housed in poor conditions and little funding for veterinary care. Certainly no money or thought is given to educating visitors about conservation.

During the 1980s, as the first world started to improve the exhibits in zoos in Europe and America, concern was expressed about the conditions prevailing in the zoos of the third world. At that time, several South African zoo directors came together with the idea of starting an African zoo association. A huge enterprise on a continent with over 50 nation-states and island groupings, dozens of different languages spoken, and in many instances tribal wars and historic enmity.

Nevertheless, in 1989 under the auspices of the National Zoo in Pretoria, a small delegation of dedicated individuals (mostly South African zoo directors) formed the Pan African Association of Zoological Gardens, Aquaria and Botanical Gardens. PAAZAB!  and sponsored senior zoo personnel from facilities in central and north Africa to attend the annual meeting and conference held in South Africa. Several of the institutions sponsored are exemplary.

By 2003, PAAZAB launched the WOZA Africa initiative. This initiative tackled several important objectives, including:

- Confirmation, identification, and documentation of all known African zoos,
- Identification of facilities with obvious needs and capacity for improvement,
- Increased awareness of the PAAZAB network and its resources, and
- Mobilization of those resources within the network.

During the years 2004-2005, PAAZAB representatives conducted site visits to 13 African institutions in eight countries including Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cote D'Ivoire, Swaziland, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, and Nigeria. The association's executive office is in communication with other facilities in some of these countries, all of which have expressed interest in membership in PAAZAB.

By the close of this initiative in 2007, PAAZAB had contact with or representation with 17 African countries.

Future plans include PAAZAB representatives conducting programs at these zoos providing veterinary services, capacity building, skill transfer at staff and managerial levels, and other professional assistance as required.

Significant to this effort is the fact that visited zoos will thereafter be included into the larger network as represented by PAAZAB throughout the world. By these efforts, PAAZAB seeks to:
- Forge partnerships within the African continent to promote biodiversity conservation in line with the outcome of the Convention of Biological Diversity and other activities of the United National
Environment Program.
- Promote high standards of animal welfare and to encourage sustainable growth and development of communities using zoos as a key source of information on the consumptive and non-consumptive use of natural resources.