ASHEBORO — The North Carolina Zoo has been awarded three grants for its wildlife conservation projects in Africa.


The zoo received two grants to aid in the recovery of African vultures, led by Dr. Corinne Kendall, curator of conservation and research for the N.C. Zoo. The zoo was awarded a National Geographic Society grant and a grant from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Conservation Grants Fund (CGF), which will support expansion of the zoo’s current work in southern Tanzania to include the Selous Game Reserve, the largest game reserve in Africa.


Preliminary work in that protected area already suggests that vulture populations there are substantial, but under threat due to poisoning. The zoo’s work, in partnership with Frankfurt Zoological Society and Tanzanian Wildlife Authority, will help to better understand the status of and threats to vultures in the area and will focus on reducing poisoning of those species through ranger training.


The zoo was also awarded a National Geographic Society grant for the project “Conservation of Africa’s Most Endangered Apes,” led by Dr. Rich Bergl, director of conservation, education and science for the N.C. Zoo. The proposed project will implement actions for the conservation of both the Cross River gorilla (critically endangered) and the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee (endangered) in Nigeria’s Cross River National Park.


The goals of the project are to bolster protection of both threatened apes, strengthen wildlife monitoring and provide conservation staff on the ground with training to protect the park’s wildlife in general. The project aims to double the number of patrols in the park in order to protect one of the most important sites for the two species. Securing the park by preventing poaching and habitat loss will help to ensure the long term survival of these two endangered apes.