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Merrist Wood College Students Team up with Wildlife Conservation Trust in Laos

Published on: 24 Jun, 2024
Updated on: 24 Jun, 2024

Higher education students at Merrist Wood College in Worplesdon will be taking part in research for the welfare, management, and rehabilitation of endangered species found in Laos, southeast Asia.

The team at the Lao Conservation Trust for Wildlife in Laos.

It is due to a partnership between Activate Learning’s college and the Lao Conservation Trust for Wildlife.

The trust has a non-profit wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre and works alongside authorities to investigate wildlife crime and rescue animals of various species, aiming to rehabilitate and release them whenever possible.

Three members of the team in Laos with rescued baby monkey.

Animals include native species such as leopard cats, keeled box turtles, Laotian langur monkeys, Siamese crocodiles, sun bears, and the iconic pangolin.

For animals deemed unsuitable for release, the centre offers care and refuge within their sanctuary.

Students at Merrist Wood College will be gathering and analysing data and sharing their findings with the team in Laos.

Jack Merrifield with some of his students at Merrist Wood College.

The faculty manager for higher education at Merrist Wood College, Jack Merrifield, said: “The work of the Lao Conservation Trust for Wildlife is immensely important in mitigating the detrimental impact of the illegal wildlife trade on essential biodiversity.

“Its dedicated staff provide essential conservation efforts to rescue, rehabilitate, and, where possible, release an ever-growing list of native animals. Addressing the complex issues of the illegal trade is challenging, but it’s clear that many critically endangered species need our help now more than ever.”

Amber Flewitt, conservation biologist and volunteer and outreach co-ordinator at the Lao Conservation Trust for Wildlife, added: “As a new conservation organisation in a relatively unknown country, we are immensely grateful for the support in terms of funding and research expertise.

Rescued pangolin at the wildlife centre in Laos.

“We often struggle to source essential equipment for our vital research projects. This collaboration will be beneficial in that regard. We are the first all-species rescue centre in Laos and also run breeding programmes for critically endangered Lao species, giving them a final chance at survival.

“Many of our animal species are almost completely unstudied, providing incredible research opportunities for students at Merrist Wood College, benefiting both parties and paving the way for a better understanding of the challenges these animals face and how to resolve them.”

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