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Around the world in 7 projects: Bristol Zoological Society’s conservation work around the globe

Posted on: 29 July, 2023

From majestic western lowland gorillas to the tiny white-clawed crayfish, we’re working around the world to save species. Find out where we work, what we do there and how you can help save species too.

Equatorial Guinea

We work in Monte Alén National Park to protect western lowland gorillas, African forest elephants, and other threatened species. We use camera traps to monitor wildlife populations, and train local field technicians and students in research methods. We’re also working with local farmers to reduce crop-foraging and retaliatory killing of forest elephants. Our innovative researchers have been trialling different techniques to keep elephants away from crops, including a smelly elephant repellent made from garlic, ginger, chilli powder and other ingredients, beehives (elephants are afraid of bees!) and loud sirens. We’re also working with the Equatoguinean government to better protect the National Park and its resident wildlife.

The Philippines

The Philippines is rich in wildlife but its growing population is leading to problems for nature. Deforestation for agriculture and an increase in the hunting of wild animals is threatening the large number of endemic species (species only found in a certain area or country) that exist there. Two of these Critically Endangered species are our focus; the Negros bleeding heart dove and the Visayan warty pig.

Working with a local partner organisation we monitor populations of these species, survey the community to understand why warty pigs are threatened with illegal hunting, and enable local communities to find alternative livelihoods to reduce this hunting pressure. We also support captive breeding centres for Negros bleeding heart doves and the warty pigs, and work with them to reintroduce captive bred doves.

See species from the Philippines at Bristol Zoo Project: find Philippine spotted deer in the old wolf wood paddock, and Mindanao bleeding heart doves and the stunning Visayan hornbill in the Walled Garden.


Costa Rica

Our focus in Costa Rica is the lemur leaf frog. These tiny 3-5cm long frogs are Critically Endangered, found in only three locations within Costa Rica. They’re slow-moving ambush predators that only jump if escaping from danger. In the day, they’re yellow-green and in the evening their colour changes to brown, camouflaging them during the night while they’re active.

We conduct surveys to find out more about the ecology of the frogs and to discover ways in which we can increase their population sizes, for example by creating artificial ponds for breeding. We liaise with National Parks, local landowners and local communities to raise awareness of the species, and have been captive breeding the frogs since 2001.



Madagascar is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, yet it suffers from exceptionally high levels of habitat loss due to increased human pressure for land. We’re restoring forests through active reforestation, monitoring biodiversity, and studying community land use in North West Madagascar. We support communities to use land sustainably and create conservation jobs through our work. We’re developing a field station in Ankarafa forest which will facilitate more research and conservation work in the area, helping to protect Critically Endangered blue-eyed black lemurs, and other species which inhabit these remaining forests.

You can see four species of lemur at Bristol Zoo Project and every visit helps support our conservation work. Book tickets here.



Endemic to the Udzungwa Mountains, Sanje mangabeys are our focus in Tanzania. The mangabeys are Endangered due to declining population size, habitat loss and forest fragmentation. The species is divided between two isolated forest block populations: the well-protected Udzungwa Mountains National Park and the relatively unprotected Udzungwa Scarp Nature Reserve. We’re studying wildlife corridors and potential opportunities to connect these separated sub-populations, enabling them to interbreed. We’re also working to conserve the Critically Endangered turquoise dwarf gecko which lives exclusively within the 8km2 of the Kimboza Forest Reserve. We’ve partnered with local conservationists to assist with reforestation efforts to increase abundance of the tree species on which the geckos live. We’ve also been breeding turquoise dwarf geckos at Bristol Zoological Society since 2017.



In Cameroon, we’ve been focusing on the protection of the Critically Endangered Kordofan giraffe in the Bénoué National Park in Northern Cameroon. Working closely with local partners, we have been monitoring populations of giraffe and other wild animals in the park. Illegal hunting, mining, and grazing of cattle are the biggest issues facing the area; cattle consume the vegetation, reducing the amount of food available for wild animals. We’ve been supporting patrols by introducing eco-guards to monitor illegal activities, creating transport infrastructure (roads) to enable better access to the park by conservationists, and conducting wildlife surveys to monitor species numbers, helping us to measure the impact of our conservation work.


We also save species in our own back garden! We have four major conservation projects in the UK — monitoring and protecting wildlife at the Bristol Zoo Project site, captive breeding and reintroduction of white-clawed crayfish, control of invasive non-native species, and monitoring and protecting wildlife in the Avon Gorge, Clifton Downs and Durdham Downs through our partners Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project.

Bristol Zoo Project is home to a wealth of British wildlife, as well as our animals from around the world. We conduct weekly wildlife surveys to monitor populations of birds, insects, mammals and plants. We have a badger sett on site, deer species in the woods and blooming wild plants, as well as rare species, including great crested newts. The natural environment of Bristol Zoo Project isn’t just a happy accident, we manage the site in a way to maximise space for nature while still making sure the zoo is safe and as accessible as possible for visitors.

Avon Gorge & Downs Wildlife Project protects local wildlife through surveying, habitat management and education. The gorge is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and over 30 different kinds of nationally rare plant grow there, as well as providing habitats for an abundance of animal species, including the rare silky wave moth.

Bristol Zoological Society has been leading efforts to reduce the spread of invasive species within England, such as Himalayan balsam, giant hogweed, and Japanese knotweed. We’ve also created the AQUA scheme, which is open to anglers and other waterway users, to help them take action to reduce the spread of invasive species.

Our other major UK focus is the protection of the white-clawed crayfish. White-clawed crayfish play a significant part in keeping waterways clean by foraging for dead matter on the bottom of streams. Their population has been in decline since the introduction of the American signal crayfish, which carries a disease that they’re resistant to, but kills white-clawed crayfish. Unlike the white-clawed, the signal crayfish harm the ecosystem by burrowing extensively into riverbanks, increasing the risk of flooding in some areas. They also predate many other native species that the white-clawed doesn’t, altering fish populations and harming established food webs.

We’ve captive bred more than 4,000 white-clawed crayfish since 2008 and have released them into the wild in carefully chosen sites free from the American signal crayfish.

What can you do to help?

Our mission at Bristol Zoological Society is Saving Wildlife Together. We need your help to make our conservation work happen. Your visit, membership or donation all help support our conservation work around the world. There’s plenty you can do at home to help protect wildlife too. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • avoid pesticides in the garden

  • build a pond (even a tiny one!)

  • let your lawn grow long

  • eat in season

  • grow your own food

  • reduce the amount of red meat and dairy you eat

  • buy organic if you can

  • avoid problematic food ingredients like unsustainable palm oil

  • tell your friends, family and neighbours what you’re doing to help wildlife — we’re most influenced by those closest to us!

Book tickets to Bristol Zoo Project, become a member, or donate.

Find out more about our future plans for the zoo here.

Bristol Zoo Project is part of Bristol Zoological Society, a conservation and education charity. Every visit supports our conservation work in the UK and around the world.