In 2019 Paradise Wildlife Park formally began supporting the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in particular the Red List assessment team with the appointment of a Red List Researcher, Andrea Dempsey. After spending four years in Ghana where Andrea worked as the Country Co-ordinator for the West African Primate Conservation Action (WAPCA) NGO, she decided to come back to the UK in 2018 undertaking the role as WAPCA Programme Manager. Working within the zoological community for 14 years at this point Andrea felt that she wanted to stay in the zoo environment and was searching for an appropriate zoo host. This is where Paradise Wildlife Park’s CEO Lynn Whitnall stepped in with the offer to accommodate Andrea in her offices on site.
Reverse the Red is a global conservation initiative based on the IUCN Red List. This list categorises wildlife species from Data Deficient to Extinct. If a species after the assessment is categorized between the threshold of Vulnerable to Critically Endangered it is considered threatened with extinction or ‘in the red’. Thus Reverse the Red was born. It is all about bringing back those ‘red’ species into more comfortable positions, where extinction is not such a threat. Reverse the Red unites zoos, aquariums, government, NGOs and more to battle wildlife extinction. Andrea believes that if organisations work as a united front to combat the threat of wildlife extinction, rather than individual bodies, we have a higher chance of achieving Reverse the Red’s goal.
There are several groups around the world that are dedicated to protecting their national and regional wildlife. Reverse the Red teams have called these groups Centres for Species Survival. Paradise Wildlife Park is one of these centres. Each centre handles regional species in order to provide specialist conservation techniques. Paradise Wildlife Park has developed its support by participating in IUCN’s Reserve the Red campaign, sitting as the UK Species Survival Committee hub with a mission to engage and connect with the wider BIAZA community (and its experts within it) with this initiative. Communication is key. Through monthly meetings, each centre is able to share news, conservation tips and data so that the community can grow and improve their knowledge.
The Reserve the Red campaign acknowledges that although the extinction of species is predominantly human-driven, it equally can be its saving. The campaign is coordinating conservationists around the world through its SSC hubs using IUCN tools to Assess, Plan and Act for wildlife.
Like the Green List, the Reserve the Red does not focus on what has already happened to the planet but instead looking forward to focusing on what can be done if we all work together.
Paradise Wildlife Park is honoured to be part of Reverse the Red and eager to share our expertise as a zoo and wildlife charity. As a family-run zoo, we highly value community and Reverse the Red’s focus on united work is something we resonate with. If organisations can all work together, we have a good chance at saving our most precious global wildlife species.
Going forward Andrea will be working with the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), advisors to the government, to assist them in their Great Britain Red List assessments. Working directly with the Red List team in Cambridge to develop distribution maps and will become a Red List trainer, training colleagues in the conservation sector so more Red List assessments can be undertaken and our knowledge of species status improved and acted upon.