Wellington Zoo’s Alison Mulford works with rare primates

May 28, 2015  

 

Wellington Zoo
May 28, 2015, 3:14pm

Wellington Zoo works in partnership with Proyecto Titi by supporting their education programmes, along with sending staff members to lend their skills where they’re most needed. Ms Mulford is the first Wellington Zoo staff member to travel to Proyecto Titi, supported by the Wellington Zoo Conservation Fund.

Wellington Zoo Visitor Experience Coordinator Alison Mulford has recently returned from Colombia, where she worked for two weeks at Proyecto Titi helping to protect the Cotton-Top Tamarin – one of the world’s most endangered primates.

Proyecto Titi advocates for the long-term conservation of Cotton-Top Tamarins and their tropical forest habitat in northern Colombia. Executive Director Rosamira Guillen recently received the Whitley Award for the organisation’s highly successful and innovative conservation efforts, which combine field research, conservation advocacy and community outreach initiatives.

Wellington Zoo works in partnership with Proyecto Titi by supporting their education programmes, along with sending staff members to lend their skills where they’re most needed. Ms Mulford is the first Wellington Zoo staff member to travel to Proyecto Titi, supported by the Wellington Zoo Conservation Fund.

“I have a passion for Latin American culture and all things primate, so this is a project that is near and dear to my heart,” said Ms Mulford, who studied primatology at university and has previously worked in primate conservation in Guatemala.

“I’m thrilled that the Zoo has supported me to travel to Colombia and to work with such an important project. The future of conservation lies in programmes that are multi-faceted. Proyecto Titi helps wildlife, and they also empower local communities to protect the biodiversity of Colombia,” she added.

“I’m looking forward to sharing what I’ve learned about these critically endangered primates, and the communities that share their space, with both staff and visitors at Wellington Zoo.”

During her time at Proyecto Titi, Ms Mulford assisted biologists as they monitored groups of Cotton-Top Tamarins in the forest of El Ceibal.

“The field team works every day to collect data and monitor Cotton-Tops, in stifling heat and high humidity. They’re all so passionate about the conservation of these vulnerable animals.”

Ms Mulford also spent time with a Proyecto Titi staff member who collects plastic from local communities near the forest habitats where Cotton-Top Tamarins live.

“Many of these communities don’t have a service to get rid of their rubbish and recycling, so it’s very common to drive past mounds of plastic waste on the side of the road.”

The plastic is then ground into fine chips, which can be used to construct sustainable fence posts for the many farmers who live near the forest.

“In the humidity, fence posts only last a few years before more trees need to be cut down to make new ones. The plastic Titi posts’ last a long time, reducing dependency on wood. It’s a fantastic initiative to reduce both waste and deforestation,” she added.