Red Kite Reintroduction and Monitoring in Fingal County

The Golden Eagle Trust, Limited is a charity dedicated to the conservation and restoration of Ireland’s native birds and habitats. Over the years, Tayto Park has been supporting the Golden Eagle Trust with the reintroduction and monitoring of red kites in North Co. Dublin.  In total, we have contributed almost €22,000.00 with a donation of €6,000.00 in January 2018.  Tayto Park is thrilled to be able to be part of such an important conservation effort. In 2016, the first breeding success of red kites in more than 100 years occurred in Fingal when 3 chicks were confirmed to have fledged from two nests. 2017, was another successful breeding year with 5 chicks fledging from two nests.  Red kites are a medium-sized raptor, which can be mistaken for a buzzard.  Adult plumage is similar in males and females, they have rufous upper and underparts with a pale great head and a very distinctive reddish forked tail. The nest in small wooded areas and are best known for decorating their nests with many interesting items such as clothing, paper, wool and even plastic. They are perhaps one of the most graceful birds in flight and watching a red kite soar is a treat one should not miss! We are grateful to the Golden Eagle Trust for their role in bringing the Red kite, along with the Golden Eagle and White-tailed Eagle back to Ireland!

Saving the Saola 

The Saloa is among the rarest large animals on the planet. While they resemble oryxes (antelopes of Africa and Arabian Peninsula) the Saola’s closest living relatives are wild cattle and buffalo. They are the sole species of a genus of Bovids and were only discovered by scientists in 1992. Sadly, this species is threatened with imminent extinction. Saloa’s are found only in Laos and Vietnam, in the Annamite mountains.  They are solitary animals that live deep in the forest. The primary threat to this species is hunting including commercial poaching and subsistence hunting by local people. The Saola’s small population size is equally a threat and coupled with insufficient conservation attention and resources has resulted in a critically endangered population.  Which is why Tayto Park was eager to support Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)/Species Survival Commission (SSC) Saola Working Group to help save this species from extinction.  Our support in the amount of €1,000.00 will help with the construction of a breeding centre in Vietnam, where they will detect wild saola and begin a breeding programme in-situ.  Zoos do not house Saola and we feel that it is extremely important to support in-situ and ex-situ conservation activities. Saola is a species that are not housed in zoological collections and contributing to conservation programmes where all work is done in-situ (on-site in the natural home of the species) is a very important part of the conservation priorities at Tayto Park. 

Amur leopard and Tiger Alliance (ALTA) becomes Wildcats Conservation Alliance 

The Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance (ALTA) and 21st Century Tiger have joined forces to support wild tiger and Amur leopard conservation under a new name ‘WildCats Conservation Alliance’.  

Tayto Park has donated €38,500 to ALTA over the last few years and in 2018 we have committed to helping secure a future for Amur leopards and tigers with our continued support of this important conservation organization.  In January, we pledged financial support for the Wildcats Conservation Alliance programmes with a commitment of €10,000.00 per annum for the next three years.

During this time, the funds donated by Tayto Park will be used for Phoenix Fund project 'Securing a future for wild Amur tigers and leopards in Russia'. The project has been implemented in Primorsky Krai and south of Khabarovsky Krai that is home to endangered Amur tigers and Amur leopards. Since 2013 the goal of the project is to stabilise Amur tiger and leopard populations through anti-poaching and environmental education activities.

100% of all donations given to Wildcats Conservation Alliance go directly to fieldwork.  

Tayto Park will continue to support this important conservation organisation as long as funding is needed to protect the critically endangered Amur Leopard and the endangered Amur Tiger. 

National Biodiversity Data Centre – Citizen Science Programme

2018 marks 6 years of recording bumblebee and butterfly populations in the zoo. Tayto Park joined the National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC) and their citizen science project known as the Bumblebee and Butterfly Monitoring Schemes in 2013.

Bumblebees are Ireland’s most important wild pollinator. Participation in this scheme enables the NBDC to track changes in the Bumblebee population and detect early warning signs of threats to them and the service they provide. 

Butterflies have a short life-cycle and are sensitive to climate change and therefore make an ideal biodiversity indicator species. The monitoring scheme allows the NBDC to track changes in Irish butterfly populations. The monitoring scheme began in 2007 and involved walking a fixed route each week from April to August and recording all species sightings. The data is used for analyses and trend projection. 

2015 was an important year for the scheme as the NBDC, and their partners introduced the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020. The plan provides a significant framework to join various pollinator initiatives across Ireland. It will mark the beginning of development where collective positive steps can be taken to protect Irish pollinators and the service they provide into the future. We plan to be a part of its success!

Tayto Park Education staff carry out the monitoring and over the years we have hosted training workshops where both staff and citizen scientists were able to hone their identification skills and learn about the importance of the Pollinator Monitoring Scheme.

A project that complements our pollinator monitoring is the British and Irish Association of Zoos Campaign (BIAZA) Grab That Gap

Grab that Gap campaign encourages BIAZA collections in the spring to grab a small area of unused space in our zoo and park and plant it with native wildflowers. This encourages biodiversity and is part of a wider effort to improve management of our zoos for native species. Tayto Park has secured an area near Farm Yard Friends to grow our wildflowers.  We haven't always been successful with tour green thumbs and last year had more weeds than flowers. With that said, we are delighted to announce that this year zookeepers and education staff will have the help of our horticultural team! We are delighted, to say the least as we want to make sure our bees and butterflies have plenty of beautiful native flowers to pollinate! 

Wildlife Vets International – Tiger Health Programme (Canine Distemper Virus)

Tayto Park is pleased to support of Wildlife Vets International (WVI). The research team at Tayto Park are particularly interested in how Canine Distemper virus (CDV) affects the genus Panthera particularly tigers and leopards. …And for those who have met Gara and Kahn you know just how special Tigers are to the park. As ambassadors for their wild counterparts, they have been able to encourage our visitors to support our conservation efforts and our yearly raffle on International Tiger Day. We have earmarked those funds for WVI who are engaged in developing ways to analyse and ultimately mitigate the risk of disease to tigers in the wild.  The concern is growing worldwide about the possible impact of Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) on dwindling and fragmenting tiger populations. It has already caused the deaths of tigers in Russia and India. Understanding how CDV infects and causes serious disease in Tigers is a vital step to controlling CDV.  Their research has the potential to make a difference to Tigers survival.Tayto Park is proud to be contributing to the fundraising activities of the Tiger Health Programme at WVI. In total, we have contributed €2,500.00 to the Tiger Health Programme. 

Other Conservation Programmes Tayto Park is involved with:

Bat Conservation Ireland – Daubenton bat transect monitoring

Hen Harrier Survey – Transect monitoring for the Golden Eagle Trust, BirdWatch Ireland, Irish Raptor Study Group and  NPWS