Tbilisi Zoo launches crowdfunding to save deer population in country

Caucasian red deer photographed in Lagodekhi Protected Areas. Photo: Giorgi Darchiashvili/Agency of Protected Areas of Georgia.

Agenda.ge, 01 Apr 2019 - 16:50, Tbilisi,Georgia

In a bid to save endangered species across Georgia, Tbilisi Zoo has launched a crowdfunding campaign aiming to aid reproduction and return to natural habitat of three of the threatened species.


Looking to preserve the Caucasian red deer, bezoar goat and West Caucasian tur, the initiative is run through the website of the zoo, where visitors can donate to the effort.


The move has particular focus on the red deer, which could “disappear from Georgian forests” unless a conservation drive succeeds in preserving their numbers, organisers of the fundraising effort said.


A social media announcement on the initiative said the campaign was needed to raise “additional funds” for the project of saving the species. The zoo has been collaborating with the German Society for International Cooperation on the project of restoring biodiversity of red deer population in Georgia.

Deer captured by a camera in Lagodekhi Protected Areas in 2017:


In addition to the conservation of the three species, the zoo project also involves rehabilitation of orphaned bear cubs at the Tbilisi venue. The zoo said the efforts were “complicated and costly projects” that needed public support.


The most recent data for the Red List of Threatened Species of Georgia, available from the zoo, listed the red deer as being in “critical condition” — placing the population under the threat of extinction.


Widely seen across all of Georgia in the mid-20th century, the deer population saw dramatic decrease, in major part due to unlawful hunting, by the 1990s.


Official data for the year 1989 showed 1,400 deer in the Lagodekhi Protected Areas, in Georgia’s east. The number fell to only 70 a decade later.


Even though a reform of protected areas, initiated in the mid-2000s, oversaw an increase in numbers for a range of species — with 300 deer accounted for in the Lagodekhi reserve in 2015 — the deer population is still endangered.


Tbilisi Zoo plans to share periodic updates for the crowdfunding initiative through social media.