Merrist Wood College Teams Up with Lao Wildlife Conservation Trust for Groundbreaking Research Collaboration

Merrist Wood College and University Centre are thrilled to announce a pioneering research collaboration with the Lao Conservation Trust for Wildlife (LCTW), the sole non-profit wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre dedicated to conserving all native species in Laos.   

LCTW works alongside authorities to investigate wildlife crime and rescue animals of various species, aiming to rehabilitate and release them whenever possible. For animals deemed unsuitable for release, the centre offers care and refuge within their sanctuary.

This partnership focuses on the conservation of endangered and vulnerable native species such as Leopard cats, keeled box turtles, Laotian langur monkeys, Siamese crocodiles, sun bears, and the iconic Pangolin.

Higher Education students from Merrist Wood will play a significant role in conducting crucial applied research for the welfare, management, and rehabilitation of these animals. This includes gathering and analysing vital data and sharing their findings with the team in Laos. Currently, all of the Higher Education students at the centre will engage in research projects that support this collaboration.

Jack Merrifield, Faculty Manager for Higher Education at Merrist Wood, expressed his enthusiasm: “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.

“The dedicated staff of the LCTW 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.”

Merrifield added, “The students and staff at Merrist Wood’s University Centre are doing just that by teaming up with the LCTW team to conduct targeted research that addresses key knowledge gaps. We aim to investigate novel questions and develop new protocols to improve the care and rehabilitation of these animals.”

Amber Flewitt, Conservation Biologist and Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator at LCTW, shared her excitement: “We are thrilled to partner with the fantastic team of staff and students at Merrist Wood College and University Centre. As a new conservation organisation in a relatively unknown country, we are immensely grateful for the support in terms of funding and research expertise.”

Flewitt highlighted the challenges faced by the centre: “Being based 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 programs for critically endangered Lao species, giving them a final chance at survival.”

She concluded, “International support helps ensure the longevity of our centre, protecting some of the world’s most endangered species while enabling our mission of community education to reduce instances of illegal wildlife trade in the future. Many of our animal species are almost completely unstudied, providing incredible research opportunities for Higher Education students at Merrist Wood, benefiting both parties and paving the way for a better understanding of the challenges these animals face and how to resolve them.”

For more information on degree-level programmes at Merrist Wood College and University Centre, visit this link