Partnership and exchange of skills – the keys to successful conservation

by Jeff Dawson and Jeanne ‘Mampi’ Soamiarimampionona - June 17, 2015

mampi_blogmain-resizeA core component of Durrell’s SAFE Programme – Saving Amphibians From Extinction is the development of ex situ conservation activities for species and in areas where captive breeding is needed and appropriate: establishing SAFEhavens. Madagascar is one area where the development of in-country captive breeding capacity is most definitely needed. As well as the primary threat of habitat loss, the new and yet unknown threat of chytridiomycosis in the country means for some species captive breeding may become a necessity to ensure their survival. As part of Durrell’s SAFE programme in Madagascar we have been working with local ?NGO’s Association Mitsinjo and Madagascar Fauna and Flora Group (MFG) to develop this capacity in country.

It is highly fortunate that Mitsinjo, based near Andasibe, manage a fantastic community run bio-secure amphibian conservation centre that is both a model for setting up and running other such centres and a resource of expertise and knowledge in country. Durrell have helped utilize this knowledge by facilitating a number of training exchanges between Mitsinjo and a new centre at Parc Ivoloina, run by MFG, to help ensure enclosure set up and protocols are properly established. As more centres are planned Mitsinjo staff will be at the forefront leading training activities and helping develop a network of captive breeding expertise in the country.

Durrell of course has great experience in the captive breeding and management of amphibians and we want to share this through the SAFE programme. To do this we have just run the first of what we hope is a regular series of internships with Durrell’s Herpetology team. One of Mitsinjo’s amphibian technicians Jeanne Soamiarimampionona (or Mampi as she prefers to be known) has just spent a month working with the team in Jersey. This was an invaluable opportunity for Mampi (who had never before left Madagascar) to get experience working in a leading herp department, working with an array of different species and of all the various protocols from live food care, to biosecurity, to record keeping.

Before she left Jersey Mampi wrote a short piece about her time here with Durrell:

“Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Association Mitsinjo Andasibe Madagascar have been collaborating since 2011.

4 years later, Durrell have invited Mitsinjo staff here to Jersey to offer training and build their capacity, because the Durrell staff have high levels of knowledge and experiences in zoo keeping and field work. They gave me the opportunity to visit the world and they showed me many beautiful things and different Critically Endangered species that I have never seen before, like the huge beautiful apes, monkeys and many other species, including bats, reptiles such as the Komodo dragon, birds and of course amphibians. One of my favorite animals here at Durrell Wildlife Park is the strawberry poison frog, Oophaga pumilio because of its colorations and unbelievable behavior.

These animals seem very peaceful and far from extinction here at Durrell, where they can breed and live safely, because they are healthy and well maintained by the keepers.

The keepers are not only taking care of the animals, they are also caring for visitors as well, the students and the guests who visit the park. They are all very friendly, nice, kind helpful and patient. Lastly, but very importantly for me; they are always encouraging. This makes me so happy, and I will always keep in mind this exchange at Durrell and their wonderful teams.

One month has gone by already, it was very quick! I`m very satisfied and proud, going back to my country with the large knowledge I have gotten from Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. I’ll be sure to apply it to our amphibian conservation program in Andasibe Madagascar.

So let me say right here: Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, you are the best in conservation, you are so awesome, popular and unforgettable, YOU EXISTS TO CARE and PROTECT the wildlife, YOU MUST BE THE WINNER!

Thank you very, very much to all Durrell staff!

So at the end, I would like to thanks all of you again, for everything that Durrell has done for me. Also on behalf of my organization, thanks again and we hope to continue to the next steps of our collaboration and make it a success. I promise to all of the Durrell team that I will share everything I took from you and relay it faithfully to all of the Mitsinjo Toby Sahona staffs. “

Mampi with Tom and Dan at Durrell Wildlife Park