The Durrell Wildlife Trust—which turned fifty last year—has announced that it will be cutting back 10 percent of its workforce, approximately 12-14 positions, due to an ongoing deficit caused by the economic recession.
“It is extremely sad that we have to take these actions, including the need to lose staff who work so passionately in support of our mission,” said Durrell Chief Executive Paul Masterton.
The organization says that while the deficits are due in part to increasing costs to run conservation programs, falling tourism at its conservation headquarters—which holds a number of endangered species—on Jersey Island and a decline in donations has severely impacted the long-running conservation organization.
Durrell Wildlife Trust was started by Gerard Durrell, beloved writer and long-time advocate for endangered species. The organization works in areas largely neglected by larger conservation organizations and with species that garner little public attention, but are no less endangered.
These include animals like the mountain chicken frog, the solenodon, the Hispaniolan hutia, and the Antiguan racer in the Caribbean; the mangrove finch and the Floreana mockingbird in the Galapagos; the pygmy hog in India; the pink pigeon, echo parakeet, Mauritius kestrel, Rodrigues fruitbat, and the Durrell night gecko (named after Gerard Durrell) on the island of Mauritius.
The Durrell Wildlife Trust has also long-focused on conservation work on the island of Madagascar, protecting rare forests and wetlands to save species like the Alaotra gentle lemur, the white-collared brown lemur, the black and white ruffed lemur, the ploughshare tortoise, the side-necked turtle, and the Madagascaran teal.
(01/18/2010) Not many people know the solenodon and the hutia, yet for the fortunate few that have encountered them, these strange little-studied mammals—just barely holding on in the Caribbean island of Hispaniola—deserve to be stars of the animal kingdom. “I could not quite believe it the first time I held a solenodon; I was in utter awe of this mesmerizing mammal. […] They have a long flexible snout which is all down to the fact that it is joined to the skull by a unique ball-and-socket joint. This makes it look as if the snout is almost independent to the rest of the animal. You can’t help but feel fascinated by the snout and inevitably it does make you smile,” Dr. Jose Nunez-Mino, the Project Manager for a new initiative to study and conserve the island’s last mammals, told mongabay.com in an interview.
(12/03/2009) I know a two-year-old who is already an owl expert. My friends’ daughter, Harper, can identify all of North America’s owls by photos or drawings; even more impressive she can identify them by call. There is one owl call, however, that she may never hear. The Anjouan-scops owl, native to Anjouan island apart of the Comoros island chain, is on the verge of extinction. It is so rare that for over a century it was believed to have already vanished.
(08/27/2009) The Madagascar pochard, the world’s rarest duck, was already thought to be extinct once. After a last sighting in 1991 the species was thought to have vanished until nine adults and four hatchlings were discovered in 2006. However, conservationists have begun to fear that the species will never recover after a survey this year found only six females.