To help mark its 40th anniversary in Jersey, which takes place in December, the private bank has been supporting Durrell throughout 2014. The improvements to the Andean ‘Cloud Forest’ enclosure will round off the year’s activities, which have included community volunteer work and a number of event sponsorships.
The primary aim of the first enhancement, which is now complete, was to provide a suitable isolated den area for the female bear, Bahia, who it is suspected may possibly be in the early stages of pregnancy. The den area will provide a more private space to rear any potential new infants. The current internal cubbing area needed extensive refurbishment to make it suitable for Bahia’s use, and for Durrell to be able to manage Bahia’s needs, and those of any cubs, in a controlled and safe manner.
Bilal Majid, Country Executive and Head of ABN AMRO Bank Jersey, commented: ‘We wanted to celebrate our landmark 40th anniversary in Jersey with a partnership that reflected our commitment to sustainable banking and to support responsible actions that benefit our clients, employees and the environment. Durrell’s ethical stance seemed a perfect fit to help mark this special occasion and we are all extremely proud of the support we have provided Durrell in 2014 to help conserve biodiversity and endangered species around the world.’
Stephanie Moore, Corporate Relations from Durrell, added: ‘The first part of the sponsorship involved relocating the current den within the main room and affixing a slide to its entrance. This will enable the bears to be shut in or out as required and allow our keepers safe access to clean and maintain the enclosure facilities. The money will also be used to install camera monitoring equipment within the den so that keepers can monitor and record Bahia and any cubs from a distance, minimising disturbances and allowing her to express any natural rearing behaviour uninterrupted.’
The second enhancement, which will take place in 2015, will involve ‘bear-proofing’ the eastern enclosure to help integrate Quechua and Bahia with a group of black and gold howler monkeys and ring-tailed coatis that reside there.
‘As yet we have been unable to fully integrate the groups of this mixed species exhibit as only one side of the enclosure is fully bear-proof. To achieve this we need to modify some of the climbing structures and re-landscape the east side of the enclosure to make it strong enough to withstand the attention of our young and very inquisitive bears,’ said Mark Brayshaw, Head of Mammals at Durrell.
To launch the partnership with Durrell, ABN AMRO Bank Jersey provided funding for two international students to take part in a 12-week DESMAN programme in May. The sponsorship part-funded the course costs as well as the food and accommodation required for the students to participate in the scheme. The programme was designed to equip conservation professionals from underprivileged backgrounds with a range of skills to maximise their effectiveness at managing or participating in conservation projects worldwide.
In September, ABN AMRO Bank Jersey became the first corporate sponsor of the annual Durrell Conservation Symposium, which provided key members of Durrell and its overseas team with a chance to discuss significant developments and research projects from the previous year. Staff volunteers from ABN AMRO Bank Jersey have also been involved in community volunteer work throughout 2014 to help improve the facilities at Durrell, including cleaning and decorating the gorilla living areas, making gorilla hammocks, resurfacing the red river hog enclosure and refurbishing the Kirindy Kabin.