A sustainable population of wildlife that serves as a dependable reservoir for ex situ (captive) and in situ (wild) conservation and utilization.
One of every four species on the planet is threatened by extinction. Historically, biodiversity has been preserved by attempting to save habitat in the species’ native environment (an in situ approach). However, the loss of habitat has become so great that it is essential to explore every means to save species, including management under human care. These resulting ex situ “source populations” can be another active force for species conservation. They allow:
- Managing species for long term sustainability, including providing security (insurance) populations for wild counterparts.
- Increasing public awareness.
- Raising funds for conservation, including in nature.
- Research and the generation of new knowledge that has management/conservation benefits.
- Serving as a supply of animals for reintroductions into the wild.
To be truly viable and useful to conservation, these ex situ populations must be sustainable and able to withstand or avoid the potential hazards of fluctuating birth and death rates, shifts in species interests/priorities, sex-ratio skews, and deleterious impacts of inbreeding.