CHESTER Zoo and the University of Oxford’s famous Wildlife Conservation Research Unit  have joined forces for high-impact conservation research.

The new partnership is designed to investigate major challenges in conservation by combining some of the international projects that Chester Zoo coordinate with cutting-edge scientific research.

Over the next seven years this new partnership will see up to 10 doctoral and postdoctoral researchers placed into Chester’s conservation projects around the world.

It is hoped that the collaboration will provide new research to assist conservationists to tackle global challenges such as human-wildlife conflict, livelihoods and sustainable development, and monitoring of populations of endangered species in the wild.

The first scientists involved in this structure will study the effects of conflict mitigation efforts on tigers in the Terai of Nepal, understand the behaviour of crop-raiding Asian elephants in north east India, and investigate the varied interactions between bears and people in Latin America.

Head of conservation science at Chester Zoo Dr Alexandra Zimmermann said: “The aim of both Chester Zoo and WildCRU is to deliver top-quality conservation research projects that are directly relevant to urgent global conservation goals.

"This exciting new collaboration allows us to do this in a way that will maximise the impact of our joint conservation efforts.”

Chester Zoo, which attracts almost 1.9 million visitors per year, leads and supports conservation projects around the world, which range from managing endangered bird populations in Mauritius, to studying Andean bear ecology in Bolivia and mitigating human-elephant conflict in India.

The WildCRU is an internationally renowned leader in applied conservation research.

Professor David Macdonald, director of WildCRU, said: “This partnership provides an excellent platform for our graduate and postdoctoral scientists to design their research around the real needs of conservation projects on the ground, helping to find solutions to some of the challenges we are facing in wildlife conservation the world over”.

This non-exclusive collaboration comes at a critical time in both Chester Zoo’s and WildCRU’s missions to help solve some of the most urgent wildlife conservation challenges world-wide.