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We’ve won a WAZA Conservation Award

October 13, 2023

A group photo of some of the staff at Marwell Zoo in 2023

Marwell Wildlife has been honoured by the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) during its prestigious annual conference event, which was held in San Diego.

During the conference, Marwell was announced as the winner of this year’s WAZA Conservation Award recognising the charity’s dedication to conservation over five decades!

In particular it is a tribute to our work re-establishing scimitar-horned oryx back in their habitats in Tunisia.

We would like to thank all of our partners, zoo guests and supporters for making this incredibly important work possible.  Without your donations, visits, purchases and support, we couldn’t continue what we do.

After an 80 year absence followed by extinction across its global range, we worked with partners to re-establish these Extinct-in-the-Wild antelope across four protected areas.

Following this success our team worked to reintroduce North African ostrich with a permanent in country team established to monitor the animals and their habitats.

WAZA represents zoos and aquariums around the world and issues three coveted awards each year. 

They recognise environmental sustainability, conservation efforts and the Heini Hediger award for professional excellence.

Marwell was awarded the sustainability accolade last year so winning the conservation award this year is a massive achievement.

Professor Philip Riordan, Director of Conservation, said: “Our journey to restore scimitar-horned oryx and its habitats in Tunisia is a testament to the power of persistence and belief in the possible. We believe that humanity can correct its past mistakes, and modern zoos and aquaria are perfectly placed to lead these conservation efforts.

“This award is not just a recognition of past achievements but a reminder of the responsibility that lies ahead. Conservation is a lifelong commitment to protecting our planet and its biodiversity.”

Dr Tania Gilbert, Head of Conservation Science, said: “Marwell’s conservation work began back in 1985 when we donated scimitar-horned oryx to the first reintroduction for the species. Since then we have built a resilient conservation programme that has a real-world impact for the species and the habitat it lives in. It has been an honour and a privilege to have been a part of this work.

“In the last 30 plus years, more than 80 organisations have supported this project; we are exceedingly grateful to those organisations that have supported us and those that still do.”

Last year we worked with approximately 160 partners including non-governmental organisations, universities and governments in the UK, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Kenya, Tunisia and Northern Africa.

Our teams have worked with communities in these areas, to give local park rangers, vets and students the skills, knowledge and resources they need to ensure threatened species have a much brighter future.

A few members of the Marwell Wildlife conservation team in Tunisia with some of our partners

Closer to home, our rewilding projects within the UK include work, over a 30-year period, to reintroduce more than 2,000 sand lizards to 28 heathland and coastal dune sites in Hampshire, Surrey, Dorset, Devon, West Sussex, and Kent where numbers have suffered substantial declines due to habitat loss.

This project was shortlisted this week as one of 22 Great British Wildlife Restoration Competition entries from zoos across the UK.

Marwell would like to again thank all of our partners, guests and supporters for making this incredibly important work possible.  We couldn’t do it without you!