29 July 2019

We’re celebrating International Tiger Day by sharing some of the stories from our Living with Tigers project in Nepal which is working to support human-wildlife coexistence.

30 August 2018

As part of our Living with Tigers project, local communities had the opportunity to feedback on what they believed would make a positive impact on their day-to-day lives.  The four communities we work with who live in areas bordering either Bardia or Chitwan National Parks in Nepal, expressed a strong need for horticulture workshops that would help them become less dependent on the forest for their livelihoods.

30 April 2018

A series of workshops on installing electric fences was led in partnership by Chester Zoo and Ecosystems India in our Living with Tigers project sites in Nepal in an effort to mitigate human-wildlife conflict within local communities in Chitwan and Bardia as wildlife are proving a serious challenge in growing crops in the region.

The workshops provided the opportunity to transfer human-wildlife conflict damage control method technical skills gained in India as part of our Assam Haathi Project to Nepal. The project, funded by two Darwin Initiative grants between 2007 and 2012, had shown that electric fences were a highly effective deterrent measure to mitigate human-wildlife conflict and curb crop loss, property damage and human casualties in over 100 communities across Assam.

Chester Zoo’s electrician, Andrew Adderton, and Anjan Baruah and Ripunjoy Nathwas from Ecosystems India were part of the team that delivered two-day workshops in four Nepali villages: Madi, Kalabanjar, Patabhar, and Ramvapur, with which our Living with Tigers project also works in addition to giving presentations to the local communities, he also provided practical sessions explaining how to install and maintain electric fences.

Fencing workshop in Nepal

Fencing workshop in Nepal, led by Chester Zoo

10 April 2018
16 February 2018

Research carried out by our conservation colleague Prof Serge Wich and other incredible scientists, revealed that 100,000 orangutans have been killed in Borneo since 1999 – with hunting and deforestation the main reasons for this devastating revelation.


30 July 2017

Studying forestry at Tribhuwan University in Nepal, Tilak Chaudhary then graduated with a Master’s in Forest Science and Forest Ecology at the University of Göttingen, Germany. He worked with a non-governmental organisation for two years before starting his master degree and then worked on a USAID funded project for ten months after graduating. His main interests lie in the fields of conservation, forest and biodiversity management, and local communities’ involvement and livelihoods.

Tilak Chaudhary, Living with Tigers project

Tilak Chaudhary (right)

Meet Tilak…

“In the past, national parks and wildlife conservation areas were established to keep local communities away. Nowadays, the scenario has changed and conservationists have started realising that conservation is not possible if local people are not included. For a protected area to be successful, it is crucial to work with local communities.

“By working with local communities, I came to realise that conservation is not only about the protection of a species, it’s much broader than that.

“Working as the LWT Project Manager allows me to be directly involved in conservation! I am mostly in charge of planning field interventions to mitigate human-tiger interactions, coordinating with conservation partners, doing field visits to ensure that the project interventions are effective and developed in the way they were envisioned, and meeting with local partners. On a typical day, I usually communicate with field staff for updates, but also explore ideas for potential interventions and prepare for upcoming events such as camera trapping activities.

The LWT project is developing interventions to mitigate negative interactions between humans and tigers, promoting alternative livelihoods and doing social marketing to change behaviours of local communities to minimise human-wildlife conflicts.

Tilak Chaudhary

“These are important aspects that must be considered as Nepal has committed to double its tiger population by 2022. While promoting tiger conservation, the project is also promoting tourism in national parks using tigers as a flagship animal in both national parks. The project has also broadened the scope and recognition of Green Governance Nepal (GGN).”

28 July 2017

Our Living with Tigers project in Nepal has been working on livelihood and conservation interventions by supporting the construction of predator-proof pens and biogas plants in various local communities. These interventions are benefiting both the local villagers as well as the biodiversity in Chitwan and Bardia, the two national parks the conservation project focuses on.

Recently, some Nepalese newspapers and online platforms took an interest in the project and a number of articles have been published nationally praising the positive changes that local people experience thanks to the project.

Prakash Chapagain, a Living with Tigers Field Officer based in Chitwan National Park, tells us more:

Tiger caught on camera trap in Bardia National Park

“The articles have outlined the activities conducted in the different sites of the project and also highlighted the perceptions that local communities and stakeholders have in regard to the project. These articles were published on Kantipur National Daily, Loktantra Sandesh National Daily, Tahakhabar and Setopati Online. The articles reflected the positive impact that the predator-proof pens and biogas plants have brought to local communities in the village of Madi.

Newspaper article about living with tigers in Nepal newspaper

News published in Loktantra Sandesh

“Ishwori Bote, a 48-year-old resident of Tamta-anar Ganeshkunja village explained that he lost several of his goats in the past to leopards that managed to get inside his old pen. However, he added that he is now confident that the new predator-proof pen provided by the Living with Tigers project would keep his goats safe! He said: ‘I am happy and confident that tigers or leopards cannot take my goats away anymore’. And he has also increased the size of his herd thanks to the project.

“Srimaya Bote, a woman from a marginalized group in Chitwan added that thanks to the support of the LwT project, she has been able to build a biogas plant in her community. Srimaya has since been able to enrol her children in school and doesn’t need to collect wood from the forest anymore thanks to the biogas plant installation. She explains:

My family is now safe from wild animals and we do not need to go to the forest in search of fuel wood anymore which means we have no chance of interacting with tigers and leopards.

Srimaya Bote, Chitwan National Park

“Ram Chandra Kandel, Chief Conservation Officer of Chitwan National Park stated: ‘These types of interventions are crucial for human wildlife conflict mitigation and are always carried out with a strong coordination from the Park Office’.


“Another news article highlighted how the installation of biogas plants has transformed the lives of locals in Bardia. Local villager, Hari Bahadur Buda explained that he had not needed to collect wood from the forest for more than six months now and added that he also felt much safer than before. Ramesh Thapa, Conservation Officer of Bardia National Park said: ‘Biogas has brought the illegal collection of fuel wood within the national park to an end.’

“These are only a few examples of how the project has already managed to impact the lives of many local communities in Nepal but many more are expected to benefit from the project in the future.”

18 May 2017

Chester Zoo’s Andean Bear Project, developed and run in partnership with The University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) and Bolivian NGO Prometa, has won a prestigious Whitley Award.

Work supported by Chester Zoo to protect critically endangered Philippine cockatoos by employing former poachers as wardens is also being recognised at the ceremony taking place in London today (Thursday 18 May).

Run by the Whitley Fund for Nature, the international prize honours exceptional conservationists working in grassroots conservation projects in developing countries. The six winners were chosen from a total of 166 contenders from 66 countries.

Andean bear at Chester Zoo

Dr Ximena Velez-Liendo, a Chester Zoo and WildCRU Conservation Fellow, is among this year’s winners with her project ‘An uphill climb: enabling coexistence of Andean bears and farmers in the Bolivian mountains’. Dr Ximena Velez-Liendo, Chester Zoo Conservation Fellow and Research Associate of WildCRU, said:

“Thanks to the Whitley Award, the funding will help us to get the research equipment we need to improve our understanding of the bears’ distribution and we will be able to work with more communities and expand our project.

I never imagined I would receive such an honour. The Whitley Awards are very prestigious and only the best of the best of conservation scientists receive them. It’s a dream come true!

Dr Ximena Velez-Liendo

Landscape, Bolivia

Earlier this year, we joined forces with WildCRU to deliver high-impact conservation research. This collaboration aims to provide new research to assist conservationists in developing innovative approaches to tackle global challenges such as human-wildlife conflict, livelihoods and sustainable development, and monitoring of populations of endangered species in the wild.

This project is key to our understanding of the human wildlife conflict facing Andean bears in their habitats in South America. This Whitley Award will provide the essential support we need to work with local communities, developing sustainable options for people to live alongside the species.

Dr Alexandra Zimmermann, Head of Conservation Science at Chester Zoo

Indira Lacerna-Widmann, chief operating officer of the Katala Foundation, a Philippines-based organisation which successfully implemented the Philippine Cockatoo Conservation Programme (PCCP), is also among the prestigious winners with her project ‘Partnering with prisoners to safeguard the Critically Endangered Philippine cockatoo‘. Indira said:

“I am so grateful first to the cockatoos who remained resilient to fight against all odds over the years. This prestigious recognition I dedicate to all Filipinos but most esp to all Palaweños who take pride in conserving this beautiful bird. The Whitley Award will push our efforts to reach and engage more people in all walks of life – be it a prisoner in penal farm, a businessman, military personnel or anyone.”

Pair of Philippine cockatoos

The participation of everyone is not an option; it is a must for things to happen!

Indira Lacerna-Widmann

Philippine cockatoo

Award winners!
Learn more about the two award winners and the conservation projects we’re working on and why they are worthy winners.

15 May 2017

Run by the Whitley Fund for Nature, the international prize honours exceptional conservationists working in grassroots conservation projects in developing countries. The applicants are currently being assessed by a panel of judges for the chance to win an award and a prize of £35,000 to support the project over one year. The Whitley Awards Ceremony will be presented by HRH The Princess Royal at the Royal Geographical Society in London on Thursday 18 May.

Andean bear caught on camera trap

Chester Zoo’s Andean Bear joint project, ran in partnership with WildCRU, is among the finalists

Previous winners include Chester Zoo project partners Arnaud Desbiez from the Giant Armadillo Conservation Project, Patricia Medici from the Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative and Inza Koné from the Tanoé Forest project.

Arnaud Desbiez meeting David Attenborough at Whitley Awards 2015
Patricia Medici speaking at TED talk
Previous Chester Zoo supported Whitley Award winners

Chester Zoo’s recently launched Andean Bear joint project, run in partnership with WildCRU and Bolivian NGO Prometa, is among the finalists. Our conservation Fellow, Dr Ximena Velez-Liendo, is working towards understanding the level of human-bear conflicts while also monitoring the Andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus) presence and distribution in the Inter-Andean dry forests in Bolivia.

With severe droughts affecting the country’s agriculture production, people are shifting from agriculture to livestock-raising, which has led to an increase in encounters between local communities and bears.

Applying a cross disciplinary approach between both natural and social sciences, the project aims at developing practical interventions for immediate reduction in bear conflict, developing alternate livelihoods to local communities, and bringing positive change and monitoring the Andean bear populations.

Dr Ximena Velez-Liendo has been shortlisted for the 2017 Whitley Awards

Indira Lacerna-Widmann, chief operating officer of the Katala Foundation, a Philippines-based organisation which successfully implemented the Philippine Cockatoo Conservation Programme (PCCP), is also among the prestigious finalists. Chester Zoo has been supporting the PCCP since 2003.

Restricted to lowland forest areas and mangroves, the Philippine Cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia) suffered a rapid decline in the last decade bringing the species to the brink of extinction. Employing former poachers as wardens, the foundation is playing a key role in conserving and restoring the most viable subpopulations of the endangered species and its habitat.

Working in five locations in Palawan, the Katala Foundation’s sites include a project in Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (IPPF). The IPPF is surrounded by forest with high levels of biodiversity and the project is working with the staff and prisoners to monitor and protect the cockatoos and other wildlife.

Watch the below video from the Philippine Cockatoo Conservation Programme to find out more about the project and the work that’s going on to help protect this bird species:

Philippine Cockatoo Conservation Programme

12 October 2016

The question we are most often asked when we talk about sustainable palm oil is: what does a sustainable oil palm plantation look like?  There is no single definition of sustainable palm oil. 85% of palm oil is grown in Indonesia and Malaysia, and both countries have mandatory national standards for growing oil palm. Voluntary standards are also in place to improve standards of sustainable palm oil; these schemes vary in their aims and criteria which makes understanding sustainable palm oil a bit of a headache!