In-situ Conservation

In-situ conservation summed up in basic terms, is just conservation on the ground in the natural environment of the species you’re saving. There is a large variety of different types of in-situ project that contributes towards the conservation of a species, sometimes helping to conserve multiple species at the same time. 

Types of in-situ conservation projects 

When it comes to conserving species, one of the biggest and most upfront methods that comes to mind is anti-poaching rangers. These rangers are there to stop the needless and unnecessary killing of endangered animals, either by means of arrest or sometimes having to resorting to killing the poachers if met with aggression. Anti-poaching, however, is not the only type of in-situ conservation, it comes in many forms and functions, so here is a small list of the types of work and projects that would be considered in-situ:

Helping with the babysitting of an orphaned rhino 6 years ago
  • Wildlife Rehabilitation and release
  • Wildlife veterinary
  • Wildlife research
  • Habitat protection
  • Habitat restoration 
  • Wildlife management (i.e. restoring populations in areas where there are low numbers, by taking animals from areas with very high numbers) 
  • Wildlife monitoring (can be using GPS trackers etc.)
  • Education for the local community – one of the most important and effective forms of saving the wild places. 
  • Preserving traditional knowledge and practices of native cultures 
  • Creating legislation for the species within their natural environment to keep them better protected as there will be high sanctions for anyone caught harming them. 

Do we really need ex-situ conservation work if we have effective in-situ conservation?

The short answer is yes. Unfortunately, a large number of the critically endangered and endangered species are found in developing countries; these countries have high unemployment rates and the money to poach an animal is tempting when you’re trying to feed your family. These countries also fairly often lack the funds to put back into their wildlife, and therefore, countries that are able to provide support, need to. 

Sumatran Orangutan at Chester Zoo – used for a breeding programme to have a good range of genetics and a back-up population

Have a read of last week’s blog, The Importance of Zoos, and find out why keeping zoos open and functioning is so incredibly important. 

But yes, if we are to have an impactful effect on the outcomes of the conservation projects, keeping ex-situ conservation efforts is incredibly important. If we were to mess up and not get the support of the locals, or the rangers in place in time to save a species, a back-up needs to be held somewhere, and good zoos and wildlife sanctuaries are the places to do this. Projects can be formed in ex-situ places such as in zoos, and work towards creating in-situ efforts, this is because zoos are able to raise funding for these projects which they can then use to provide equipment, qualified teachers for the locals and specialists to work with the locals to help run the projects. 

Can I get involved in projects to help save wildlife?

Absolutely you can, I have been on many different projects, specifically to Africa and have worked first-hand with some of the wildlife at a rehabilitation centre and saw some of the residents be released back to the wild. 

A better picture of baby rhino – go get involved, it’s great fun, great experience and you get to work hands on with amazing species like this.

The projects that are set up with reputable organisations do amazing work. Not only do they help with the efforts of on-hand conservation, such as wildlife rehabilitation, wildlife research and wildlife relocation, but to name a few; they also do important work at going to local schools to educate children, and also, most importantly, create new jobs for the locals to help drive down unemployment rates, paying them good salaries so that they are not tempted to illegally poach animals just to feed their families. 

Is there anything I can do at home that will positively impact conservation efforts?

Yes. There are always things you can be doing at home. Two big things come to mind for me, something which I haven’t perfected yet, but am slowly working towards. Reduce the amount of plastic you buy and use. Reduce the number of products you buy that contain palm oil. 

Plastic is one of the biggest killers to the biggest number of species out of any other danger to wildlife. Plastic is found in ocean dwelling wildlife, river wildlife, terrestrial wildlife and almost any other type of wildlife you can think of. It is killing species left, right and centre because they aren’t aware of the dangers they face when they consume it, nor are they able to tell it apart from other food they would eat, especially plastic bags as they look quite a lot like jellyfish in the water. As well as consuming plastic, animals get tangled up in it and suffer horrific injuries, often taking a long time for them to die and so they experience an immense amount of suffering at the end of a short-lived life because of man. There are so many eco-friendly, sustainable, plastic free businesses popping up all over the world, and it’s time we really start to push these businesses to the top and get the plastic situation under control. 

The problem with palm oil is that it can be found in almost everything. It is used in a whole range of food products, skincare and haircare products and a number of things I can’t even think of. Not only are these foods and products pre-packaged and contribute towards the plastic crisis, but they are also driving the destruction of habitats for endangered animals, one of the most famous species affected is the Orangutan. There are two ways to go about dealing with this problem, either go completely off all packaged food and only make things from scratch and use natural cleaning solutions like shampoo bars etc. Or you can look for products that contain sustainably sourced palm oil. 

My first order from Peace With The Wild that came this week – a wooden hairbrush, natural deodorant in cardboard packaging, biodegradable floss in a reusable container – you can buy refills in sustainable packaging for many items, and a stainless steel tongue scraper.

It does take a huge amount of effort from all of us to make these changes, but if we lead the way by making choices that negatively affect the businesses who don’t want to cooperate (i.e. making their profits shrink because we’re not buying from them) they will eventually have to change their ways to gain customers again. We as the consumer have the most power in making companies change their ways, and if a lot of us make it noticeable that we will not buy packaged fruit and veg (that really doesn’t need it) or unsustainably sourced palm oil products, we will drive the change. Through our actions, and our actions alone, we will make a difference and help with the fight to save the earth. If you’re going to be making any changes this year, I urge you to really try and use as many eco-friendly products as you possibly can, even if you are only able to change to a re-usable water bottle, you will be saving so much money and plastic in the long run. 

Two companies I am using this year are: 

  • Smol – for my laundry pods and dishwasher tabs – no plastic wrapping on individual pods/tabs and the outside container is cardboard making it fully recyclable. 
  • Peace With The Wild – an eco-friendly company providing a range of products for the kitchen, bathroom, going out and a whole array of other items. 

By making these changes to living with less plastic in your home, more natural products and products that use less palm oil, your actions are making it easier for the people working out in the field trying to save the wildlife.

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