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Provide SFA officials with an introduction to forest certification and the importance of these standards in forest practices and management Medical evaluations of giant pandas with questionable health status. Sharing cutting-edge technologies in veterinary diagnostics, including ultrasound and gastrointestinal endoscopy Presented modern philosophies on the importance and value of zoo masterplanning and the essentials of exhibit design for optimal animal welfare, management, education and visitor enjoyment Training in concepts and laboratory techniques for noninvasive hormone monitoring

AZA GPCF, CAZG, SNZP

"AZA GPCF, American Zoo and Aquarium Association's Giant Panda Conservation Foundation; CAZG, Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens; CBSG, Conservation Breeding Specialist Group; CRB, Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding; CWCA, China Wildlife Conservation Association; CZ, Columbus Zoo and Aquarium; FAO, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations; MZ, Memphis Zoo; OP, Ocean Park-Hong Kong; OHDZ, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo; SFA, State Forestry Administration; SNZP, Smithsonian's National Zoological Park; USDA-FS, United States Department of Agriculture-Forest Service; WWF, WorldWild Fund for Nature; ZA, Zoo Atlanta; ZSSD, Zoological Society of San Diego.

Figure 22.1. Participants in a Conservation Biology and Wildlife Management Training course conducted at the Tangjiahe Nature Reserve (photograph reproduced courtesy of Rudy Rudran).

animal welfare concerns. In most cases, more sophisticated training was provided through advanced courses held in China or specialised training provided to the Chinese locally or in the USA (see below).

When serving as principal investigators on research projects conducted in China, Americans virtually always trained one or more Chinese counterparts in scientific methods, data collection, interpretation and even manuscript preparation. Some projects were excellent opportunities to study other Chinese fauna. For example, a course on 'Large Mammal Surveys' by the Smithsonian's National Zoo was designed for the Chinese to test the efficacy of using camera traps to count giant panda numbers in reserves. In reality, however, the study allowed identifying and counting a diversity of species to determine mammal densities for entire reserves. Furthermore, most courses did not involve simply didactic-in-the-classroom activities but were also highly field based and 'hands on' (Fig. 22.2). There often was an emphasis on the actual long-term collection and interpretation of habitat and species data that were of direct interest to decision-makers, including reserve managers. Finally, not all courses were directed at scientists. Two of the sponsoring zoos (Zoo Atlanta and the National Zoo) have directed substantial environmental education training towards

Figure 22.2. Participants in (a) the laboratory (learning GIS tools) followed by (b) a ground-truthing exercise in the field (photographs reproduced courtesy of William McShea and Melissa Songer).

Figure 22.2. Participants in (a) the laboratory (learning GIS tools) followed by (b) a ground-truthing exercise in the field (photographs reproduced courtesy of William McShea and Melissa Songer).

teachers living in communities near or immediately adjacent to panda reserves or breeding facilities (Table 22.2). These projects also focused on actual local public awareness activities to highlight the panda's plight and the value of protecting species and habitats.

The overall impact of capacity building efforts to date has been impressive, and from both cultures. For example, the western faculty often stated ''we learned as much, if not more, from the Chinese than they did from us'', making this experience truly one of mutual information sharing. From a numbers perspective, 1324 Chinese professionals have benefited from these formal courses in China (see Table 22.2) with 104 experiencing course work or other specialised training in the USA. A substantial proportion of the within-China activities have been directed towards field biologists and managers. For example, 454 Chinese professionals benefited from courses led and sponsored by the Smithsonian's National Zoo. Of these, 56.6% (257 individuals) were involved directly in in situ conservation of giant pandas, other wildlife species and their habitats.

What is important is that these training opportunities have been specifically tailored to meet the explicit needs identified by the Chinese, who obviously are most informed about skill and knowledge gaps. Inevitably, the focus has been on highly practical courses - techniques and information that can be applied immediately. Post-course evaluations have been critical to improving offerings as well as designing new or advanced ones. Success has also probably been associated with decisions to conduct most formal courses within China. Generally, it is more economical to send a few faculty to China rather than large numbers of students to the west. Training within China also avoids distractions associated with travelling abroad while allowing the largest number (and most appropriate) people to participate, usually in the actual panda reserves that require study. This strategy allows a person to train in familiar environments, which, in turn, facilitates applying new knowledge and techniques more quickly to the immediate surroundings for which the trainee is responsible. All shared information is also provided in the local language with extensive use of translators, translated manuals and PowerPoint presentations. Efforts have also been made to identify 'star' students within courses who, if possible, can receive further nurturing to become future trainers (i.e. the concept of 'training trainers'). Most of all, success to date has been based on a strong and consistent presence in China - courses are not one-time efforts but rather have occurred with reliable frequency. The participating Chinese and westerners have become not only colleagues but also friends, which in itself has promoted more interest in working together for yet more capacity building. In essence, the provision of extensive training within China has been the ultimate tool for building trust and confidence between partners. In the end, it will enable the Chinese to be sufficiently independent in conservation capacity, taking on their most critical needs with the necessary scientific background and confidence to succeed.

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