Securing a shared future for wildlife and people

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As many people prepare for the People’s Climate Change March this Sunday in Sydney, it’s a timely reminder that climate change affects wildlife too.

For thousands of years, each Spring the coral on the Great Barrier Reef spawns for just a few nights after the full moon, releasing their eggs and sperm into the warm waters.

This incredible occurrence, the only reproductive event on the planet which can be seen from space, is threatened by rising sea temperatures, which coral cannot tolerate.

As part of Taronga’s commitment to a sustainable future for people and wildlife, the Zoo established a CryoReserve at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, preserving different coral species, including those which can tolerate higher temperatures and others which are the structural backbone of the reef,  working with the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Smithsonian Institution.

Both sperm and embryonic cells have been successfully frozen, thawed and cultured to test survival through the process. We have enough material to produce over 200 million colonies given our test success and the skills and resources of Australian Institute of Marine Science staff remain available to us.

At the other end of the scale the CryoReserve was also the place where we humans produced the first IVF Black Rhino embryo.

Our Zoos are also working through our Conservation Fields Grants which now total over 70 grants globally since 2008, to support communities and wildlife on the ground.

Projects as varied as reducing demand on forests for firewood and providing alternative income to traditional pastoral communities to reduce livestock pressures in African national parks.

I encourage all Australians to do something that can make a difference like buying sustainably harvested seafood or installing energy efficient appliances at home.

Taronga recognises that addressing climate change is a threefold imperative: self-interest, moral responsibility and good business. Australians must work together to address the impact of climate change on ourselves, our children and the impact on others. 

Our Zoos aim to achieve a 10% carbon reduction by 2020, and to be carbon neutral by 2030.

Imagine what we can achieve if all of us Australians (24m estimated by the ABS) do just one thing to help slow climate change.

This weekend, world leaders will be gathering in Paris on the eve of the United Nations Climate Summit. Ahead of that, millions of people will gather across the world to send a message to leaders globally that we require meaningful action on climate change. 

This Sunday (29th November) people will come together from all around Sydney to join the People’s Climate March, to show that we’re all ready to do our bit. Our Zoo staff are proud to support this important event, and we hope to see you there, it’s 12.30 for a 1pm start at the Domain.

May I encourage everyone to act for a sustainable future for both communities and wildlife immediately.

Cameron Kerr

Executive Director Taronga Conservation Society.

PS, Taronga is a partner with the Jane Goodall Institute. Please see Jane’s video here:

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