Conservation and Science
Conservation is a major aspect of our sanctuaries mission and we want to do everything we can to protect the animals we love in their natural environment to safeguard the future of every species.
We contribute to conservation in a number of different ways. We have in the past taken part in European Breeding Programmes for several species of animals, particularly in our primate section. We have strategies in place to make education about the natural world as accessible as possible, with the hope of inspiring the next generation of conservationists. But more predominantly we are involved with three in situ conservation projects, helping protect animals in their natural environment.
Conservation on the Isle of Wight
The Wildheart Animal Sanctuary is part of a collaborative project to protect and conserve a very rare moth. The only UK population of the reddish buff moth – Acosmetia caliginosa is found on the Isle of Wight. What’s more, it is only found in one place on the Isle of Wight and that is a closely guarded secret!
This species is fully protected under Section 41 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (2006) and Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981); therefore we have to hold a special licence to work with it!
Our conservation partners for this project are Amazon World, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation. We were delighted to receive a £5000 Conservation Grant from BIAZA in 2014 that helps us to undertake this work.
Our Education and Conservation Manager works with staff from Amazon World to carry out annual surveys for reddish buff caterpillars. We also assist with surveys for the adult moth; that involves getting up at 4am!!! Our Horticulture Manager and her team of volunteers have been helping the Wildlife Trust with habitat management.
Conservation in Madagascar
MADAGASCAR FAUNA AND FLORA GROUP (MFG)
The Wildheart Animal Sanctuary is proud to be a member of the Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group (MFG) and has been for many years.
The MFG is a consortium of zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums that work together to provide funding and expertise to conserve the unique biodiversity of Madagascar.
The funding that we provide through our membership dues helps to pay for the vital conservation work that the MFG carries out in Northeast Madagascar.
The MFG works in Northeast Madagascar. The office is at Toamasina (also called Tamatave) and the two field sites are at Parc Ivoloina and at Betampona Special Nature Reserve.
Parc Ivoloina is an old French forestry station of 282 hectares. It is dominated by mainly secondary forest and is entirely managed by the MFG. Parc Ivoloina is open to the general public. Within Parc Ivoloina there is a small zoo which houses only endemic Malagasy species, several of which are on international breeding programmes. The zoo also takes in animals which have been confiscated by the authorities.
Parc Ivoloina Centre for Environmental Education (CEE) is the base for formal and informal education programmes. A weekly Saturday School provides environmental education as well as French and mathematics lessons to upper primary children. The children also receive a cooked lunch on Saturday School days – a big incentive in a region where food poverty is a major problem.
The Ivoloina Conservation Training Centre (ICTC) is used for workshops and other training activities. It includes a conference room, laboratory, dining hall and dormitory accommodation.
The Ivoloina Forestry Station includes forest trails, lakes, picnic sites and a campsite. It is used as a living resource for students studying environmental education.
The Ecoagriculture Model Station has multiple roles – different crop cultivation methods are trialled here, farmers receive training in sustainable agriculture techniques, and propagation methods for endangered hardwoods are developed, to support forest restoration projects. The Eco-agriculture Model Station is also the base for the Darwin Initiative – a conservation project conserving threatened plants from the Ivoloina-Ifontsy valleys (click here to find out more)
Betampona Natural Reserve is an isolated 2,228 hectare remnant of pristine rainforest which is totally surrounded by degraded agricultural land. The reserve is jointly managed by the MFG and by Madagascar National Parks. It is not open to tourists – special permits are required for researchers.
The MFG’s Malagasy employees at Betampona are based at the adjacent research station of Rendrirendry. Here there is an office, kitchen, refectory and some basic accommodation for researchers and MFG visitors.
Mammal species found at Betampona include bamboo lemurs, indri, aye-aye and fossa. It is a particularly important site for amphibians – several frog species are found here which may be endemic to this forest.
MFG's Four Pillars
The MFG’s work is based on four ‘pillars’. These are:
Conservation Action (including lemur reintroductions, monitoring amphibians for Chytrid (a highly infectious fungal disease) and forest restoration.
Conservation Research (including eradication methods for invasive species, fauna and flora surveys, and wildlife medicine).
Environmental Education (including Saturday School, Green Ambassador camps for secondary age students, community events and wider communication via newsletters and radio).
Capacity Building – training Malagasy citizens in wildlife conservation and other skills. Almost all MFG staff are Malagasy.
For more information on the MFG please visit and explore their website by clicking here.
Conservation in India
The Wildheart Animal Sanctuary provides funding to support an in-situ tiger conservation project which is managed in India by the Wildlife Conservation Society - India.
The project, entitled ‘Supporting Local Advocacy for Tiger Conservation in the Bhadra-Kudremukh Landscape’ is implemented by an outstanding and highly-regarded community conservation leader called D.V. Girish.
Much of the team’s work involves long term conservation monitoring in and around Bhadra Tiger Reserve. The last tiger census indicated there are between 20 and 30 tigers in the reserve as well as a wealth of other wildlife, including sloth bears and elephants.
Winning the confidence and support of local communities is vital. The team delivers outreach and education programmes to local people from a wide range of ages and backgrounds including school children, teachers, local communities, policy/decision makers, elected representatives, and religious leaders.