RSCF is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization dedicated to preserving biodiversity through hands-on conservation programs rooted in sound science.
Golden Lion Tamarin (copyright RSCF)
RSCF utilizes the “flagship species” concept, whereby the conservation of key species leverages protection of biologically diverse ecosystems. This concept evolved from the sobering observation that historical conservation approaches often targeted only individual, high profile, and charismatic animals. Effective flagship species not only characterize diverse ecosystems, but also connect cultural, political and social value systems to nature. The human component is crucial, since collectively we must shoulder the responsibility of preserving what remains of nature. Conservation strategies for pinnacle species like Brazil’s golden-lion tamarin and the east African bongo antelope must foster broad protected-area policies and protection for whole ecosystems, thereby benefiting a myriad of plants and animals.
One of the aspects that makes RSCF a very different kind of conservation organization is our “lean and mean,” hands-on approach, whereby we minimize bureaucracy and administration. RSCF’s small, focused staff conceive and execute its programs, doing everything from research in the field, to managing endangered species breeding programs, to writing scientific papers, to fundraising and all administrative functions. Many of our conservation programs are supported by contributions restricted for specific purposes, such as field research in a particular place, habitat acquisition, or endangered species husbandry.
Conserving flagship species in the wild–especially where they still have a stronghold–preserves the integrity of these important ambassadors and their ecological contexts. Certainly some critical species must be maintained in captivity out of concern for their global extinction, which accounts for RSCF’s minority investment in captive breeding. However, severing the link between captive breeding and field conservation is tantamount to creating an eternal “voyage of the damned”, whereby once vital species survive only in captivity as their habitats are lost forever. Just as these species have leverage in life, their extinction has a ripple effect. When flagships disappear from the wild, their conservation power vanishes, often along with the biologically diverse ecosystems that surround them.
RSCF designs sustainable recovery, reintroduction and protection programs for endangered species in the wild, and works collaboratively with governments and other conservation/research organizations to restore target species and protect critical habitats. RSCF also provides consulting and technical services to conservation teams, and forms educational, political and economic partnerships to expedite specific habitat and species conservation projects.
Imperial Amazon Parrot (copyright RSCF)
A notable example is RSCF’s partnership with the Forestry, Wildlife and Parks Division on Dominica (in its 14th year now), which has focused on parrot conservation and research. This collaboration has yielded many significant results, including declaring the world’s first new national park of the millennium, the Morne Diablotin National Park– dedicated to help protect Dominica’s national bird, the endemic Imperial Amazon Parrot (Amazona imperialis), known locally as the Sisserou. This partnership, and the conservation leverage afforded by efforts to save the Sisserou exemplify the flagship species methodology. Indeed, Dominica is the only country to have a parrot on her flag (the Sisserou, of course), which also adorns her Coat-of-Arms. Efforts on Dominica now extend to broad protected-area policies, legislation, and field conservation endeavors for a diverse array of taxa.
For more details on the programs carried out by rarespecies visit their web-site: www.rarespecies.org
Dr. Paul Reillo (RSCF fonder and president), discusses conservation and the role humans can play in preserving the Earth’s vanishing natural resources.
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