Case Study: Conservation

Conservation is the management and protection of life on Earth from loss and harm, in order to safeguard habitats, species and their interconnections for the future.

Our mission is to be a major force in conserving the living world.

Conservation itself is made up of many forms of action, from sustainable development and resource use, through to intense protection for specific habitats and species.

The threats to earth’s biodiversity are well documented, with major threats being climate change, habitat loss and over-exploitation. An overwhelming majority of threats are caused by anthropogenic factors – the actions of humans.   

Awareness and responsibility for sustainability and conservation is increasing and there is work taking place for many species which are struggling to survive in the face of an expanding human population. Both in situ and ex situ conservation is underway to conserve and protect certain species for the future.

In situ conservation is top class conservation. This is where action is targeting the natural habitat of a species, for example protecting it from degradation, monitoring wild populations and working with local people. For some species this is the only strategy in place as other options are not viable (e.g. Javan Rhino, Ethiopian Wolf, Mountain Gorilla).

Ex situ conservation is supplementary to in situ work, but can also play a vital role. This is where a species is cared for away from its natural habitat, this may include a zoo breeding programme, and/or protection until its natural environment is safe for its return. Many of the species which require ex situ conservation are those suffering extreme threats in the wild, such as hunting or disease. Sadly some species are now extinct in the wild – only occurring in zoo populations.

Zoos have a large role in ex situ conservation, by being part of global breeding programmes and by raising awareness about the plight of species around the world.

Find out more about our conservation work on our Act for Wildlife website here.