Emergency Relief Fund Grantees
When emergency crises generate devastating health, social, economic, and political challenges, they often also lead to increased pressure on wildlife and natural resources, disruptions in fundraising for conservationists, and destabilization of security for communities.
WCN’s Emergency Relief Fund supports conservationists, wildlife, and communities to turn crisis into an opportunity to respond. Proposals to the Emergency Relief Fund are currently accepted by invitation only, but here, you can view some of the projects that have been supported to date.
African Marine Mammal Conservation Organization
Organization: African Marine Mammal Conservation Organization (AMMCO)
Species Focus: African Manatee
Goal: Alternative Livelihoods for Communities Impacted by COVID-19
Through this funding, AMMCO helped improve the resiliency of the local community that was suffering a decrease in income due to COVID-19 by directly supporting 100 fishers from the northern coast of Cameroon and from Lake Ossa Wildlife Reserve. Bycatching and poaching of turtles over the last six months went down, with only two cases of turtle poaching being reported, while there were six cases of turtle rescue by fishers.
Fishers have now become an important ally in the conservation of the marine turtles and overall health of the local ecosystem, while diversifying the source of income of local community members through training and by providing the start-up materials for individuals to start their own businesses such as snail farming and mushroom cultivation.
Conservation Lower Zambezi
Organization: Conservation Lower Zambezi
Species Focus: Elephant, Lion, Pangolin, Wild Dog, & more.
Goal: Maintain capacity of local wildlife management teams
This grant to Conservation Lower Zambezi (CLZ) will ensure maximum operating capacity to effectively manage the Lower Zambezi’s wildlife. Part of the funding will support Zambia’s Department of National Parks & Wildlife (DNPW) to mobilise their wildlife management teams. The grant also supported a portion of salaries for CLZ Basecamp employees to retain all staff and not contribute to local revenue loss that these low-income communities are currently facing.
CLZ had lost significant revenue from the shutdown of tourism, coupled with the inability to conduct income generating activities. Thanks to this funding, CLZ was able to support Zambia’s Department of National Parks & Wildlife (DNPW) during an exceptionally difficult year with ad-hoc requirements for the Rangers and various important meetings. Over 64 of CLZ’s staff remained employed, 80% of which are hired and trained from the local rural communities in the Lower Zambezi.
Conservation Through Public Health
Organization: Conservation Through Public Health
Species Focus: Mountain Gorillas
Goal: Mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on mountain gorillas and surrounding human communities
Several gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in what was believed to be the first known cases of natural transmission to non-human primates.
With this grant, CTPH trained Bwindi Impenetrable National Park staff and community volunteers on how to prevent COVID-19 among people and gorillas. To safeguard the survival of the mountain gorillas, CTPH supported the health and wellbeing of community members living adjacent to the park. Specifically, CTPH addressed the nutritional needs of community members whose livelihoods were lost with the tourism crash by providing them with “ready to grow” gardens that provided harvestable crops within 1-3 months, thereby reducing their likelihood to enter the forest illegally to hunt for food. and building the community’s resiliency. CTPH also supported COVID-19 prevention between people and gorillas through ongoing COVID-19 testing.
Conservation & Wildlife Fund
Organization: Conservation & Wildlife Fund
Species Focus: All resident species, including lion, leopard, wild dog, cheetah, pangolin, roan antelope, and elephant
Goal: Maintain, improve, and expand anti-poaching reach in response to COVID-19 related increase in poaching and human wildlife conflict
The ongoing effects of the Covid-19 impact have resulted in a continued extremely low number of tourists and operators driving or being driven around Hwange National Park, which makes it easier for poaching to go undetected. The depressed income from the decrease in tourism has also affected CWF’s anti-poaching efforts.
With this grant, CWF plans to employ an additional six anti-poaching scouts; upgrade first aid supplies; and provide help with transport, fuel, and food packs for the forest guards of the Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe who are facing a potentially dangerous wildfire season. This grant will also support CWF to partner with Hwange Horseback Safaris to run mounted anti-poaching patrols.
Dambari Wildlife Trust
Organization: Dambari Wildlife Trust
Species Focus: Black and White Rhino
Goal: Mitigating COVID-19 impact on rhino populations in Matobo National Park
The fundraising and assistance efforts that Dambari Wildlife Trust (DWT) had planned for rhino management operations in 2020 were decimated by COVID-19 and funding for 2021 activities continues to be impacted. This is especially concerning as poaching demand is expected to rise as international travel increases, leaving many rhinos vulnerable.
With this grant, DWT aims to deploy a ten-day operation to dehorn and ear-notch at least 12 immature black and white rhino and dehorn up to 33 more individuals in Matobo National Park. Matobo National Park (MNP) in southwestern Zimbabwe is the only park in the country that still has viable, growing populations of both black and white rhino. Routine dehorning and ear-notching of immature individuals are necessary tools for rhino management. This operation, in partnership with the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (ZPWMA) Rangers, includes a “top cover” air team, ground team, and veterinarian to dehorn, ear-notch, and microchip previously unmarked individuals.
Organization: Ewaso Lions
Species Focus: Lions
Goal: Drought Response Strategy
With this grant, in partnership with the Grevy’s Zebra Trust, Ewaso Lions will support Community Conservancies in Northern Kenya to cope with a devastating drought, through efforts such as the provision of water for wildlife and livestock; conducting surveys of lion conflict across the landscape; logistical support for partners including furling vehicles to help with surveys and supplementary feeding programs; drought management and impact monitoring; community outreach that includes providing food to herders and meeting with them to discuss lion conflict during this critical period; and surveying drought status and water availability for wildlife and people.
Drought has devastating and lasting effects on wildlife and communities. 2009 presented one of the worst droughts the Sambaru region had ever experienced, which resulted in utter devastation for wildlife, including the loss of Sambaru’s entire buffalo population. In 2017 another drought, although less severe, resulted in the loss of over 10% of the known lion population in Sambaru as people, livestock, and wildlife converged on the last vestige of grass that was also prime lion refuge. The Sambaru region again faces a severe drought, after two consecutive seasons of low rainfall and another one predicted. Ewaso Lions is committed to proactively mitigating the impacts of drought by stemming wildlife deaths and supporting local communities.
Fundación Rapaces y Bosques de Panamá (FRBP)
Organization: Fundación Rapaces y Bosques de Panamá (FRBP)
Species Focus: Harpy Eagle
Goal: COVID-19 – Building community resilience through forest and Harpy Eagle conservation
With this funding, FRBP will design and implement a forest patrolling system to monitor and report threats (illegal logging, hunting for wild meat, and wildlife trafficking) that impact Harpy Eagles, other wildlife, and ecosystem integrity. FRBP will train 15 local community members as wildlife monitors.
FRBP will also provide 30 families from indigenous communities with self-reliant food systems, to reduce their reliance on wildlife for subsistence. With the guidance of agro-ecology specialists, FRBP will implement small-scale pig and chicken farming to reduce wild meat consumption while generating economic revenue for these families. FRBP will also establish home gardens with short-cycle crops to promote healthy nutrition.
Meeting these objectives will benefit local people by allowing them to become more resilient to the economic, health, and social effects that the current pandemic is creating.
Grevy's Zebra Trust
Organization: Grevy’s Zebra Trust
Species Focus: Grevy’s zebra
Goal: Drought Response Strategy
This grant will support the Grevy’s Zebra Trust’s (GZT) efforts to maintain Grevy’s zebra population health until the current drought in Northern Kenya ends (potentially March 2022). In addition to supplementary feeding, access to water for Grevy’s zebra must be managed, drought status surveys must be undertaken regularly to respond to the changing conditions, monitoring of interventions must be undertaken, and support to community partners is critical to alleviate their suffering during drought.
After two consecutive below-average rainy seasons and further below-average rainfall predicted, the drought in northern Kenya has become a climate emergency. Pastoralist communities are suffering and desperate to find grazing for their livestock, leading to severe encroachment of all areas that are normally protected for wildlife, including conservancy core areas and buffer zones, and national reserves. As a result, forage has rapidly depleted and wildlife is beginning to lose condition. GZT, with authority from the Kenya Wildlife Service, has developed a successful supplementary feeding program to buffer the body condition of Grevy’s zebra during droughts.
Hirola Conservation Programme
Organization: Hirola Conservation Programme
Species Focus: Hirola
Goal: Responding to COVID-19 Conservation Challenges for the World’s most Endangered Antelope
With this fund, Hirola Conservation Programme (HCP) strengthened anti-poaching efforts, maintained field operations, and improved community engagement through education programs and provisions of essential preventive equipment.
This funding provided salaries to 10 newly trained rangers — all recruited from local communities that were affected by job loss due to the pandemic — and 5 key office staff members for four months, and enabled HCP to purchase anti-poaching equipment and fuel needed for these additional ranger patrols.
Additionally, HCP provided community members with essential preventive equipment, including reusable face masks and hand sanitizers, and educated locals on the importance of wildlife coexistence through radio programs that reached up to 6,000 individuals.
Kalahari Research & Conservation (KRC)
Organization: Kalahari Research & Conservation (KRC)
Species Focus: Lions, Wild Dogs and Vultures, Community Engagements
Goal: COVID-19 support for communities who have lost all incomes normally generated from legal wildlife based livelihoods
This project helped reduce the threat of poaching and livestock encroachment into wildlife management areas of the Kgalagadi region of Botswana, during the COVID-19 pandemic. With reasonable income from ecotourism and hunting only likely to start to regenerate from the second half of 2021 at the earliest, more resources have been urgently needed to address these threats before they have a significant and lasting negative impact on wildlife populations.
With this funding, KRC was able to get another vehicle “bush” ready, equipped with tires appropriate equipment (GPS, Satellite Phone/Airtime) necessary for bush trips and bring on an additional staff member with a high level of bush experience to lead these trips. To support alternative livelihoods, KRC employed community members to assist with anti-poaching trips to gather information about and deter potential poaching activities and to herd livestock out of wildlife areas.
Species Focus: Lions
Goal: Securing pastoralist livelihoods through human lion conflict mitigation activities
Poverty among pastoralists around Ngorongoro is already high and the loss of tourism revenue due to Covid-19 has emphasized the dependency on livestock in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area as the community’s only source of income. The recent success of KopeLion’s work to increase tolerance towards lions has meant that more lions are moving into the community occupied areas around Ngorongoro, recovering former range and the potential conflicts are much higher.
This grant will enable KopeLion to enroll Lion Custodians to ensure emergency medical costs are protected for accidents, support efforts to monitor lions, keep livestock aways from conflict, find lost livestock, repair enclosures, and treat wounded livestock; provide timely response to emergency conflict situations; explore need for further protection activities; and enhance collaring efforts that helps keep herders informed of lion activity.
Landscape and Conservation Mentors Organization (LCMO)
Organization: Landscape and Conservation Mentors Organization (LCMO)
Species Focus: Lion
Goal: Early Warning System to Reduce Human-Wildlife Conflict
With this grant, LCMO focused on poaching reduction by installing village human lion conflicts loudspeaker early warning systems in 3 remotely villages where human-lion-interactions and conflicts are frequently reported.
With early warning systems, LCMO can now directly reach over an average of 2,300 community members in each village. This efficient system prevents community members from having to walk long distances to game rangers to report incidents, thereby improving human-wildlife coexistence.
Additionally, LCMO was able to provide uniforms to 19 pupils from families who had experienced loss of their loved ones due to recent lion attacks. LCMO was also able to conduct a survey to assess human-lion interactions and conflicts in 7 districts with about 289 villages that had reported human-lion conflicts.
Location: Central America & Cabo Verde
Species Focus: Sharks & Rays
Goal: Marine Conservation Salaries for Fishers
With this funding, MarAlliance will provide direct financial relief to 22 fishers through the provision of conservation jobs as well as core support for the MarAlliance team to ensure continued programs.
The conservation efforts that fishers will be hired to partake in include:
- Cabo Verde monitoring of hammerheads in the bay of Sal Rei;
- Belize baseline surveys to establish catch effort and species abundance/diversity following the Belize gill net ban;
- At sea surveys for the top netted fish in Belize – the snook;
- Deep water fisheries monitoring in Belize, Honduras, and Mexico;
- and Monitoring of threatened species in Panama’s Bocas del Toro region and protected areas.
Organization: Musekese Conservation
Species Focus: Lion, Leopard, WIld Dog, Elephant
Goal: Support Community Scouts and Park Rangers impacted by COVID-19
The current global pandemic has severely affected Zambia’s economy. The Department of National Parks & Wildlife units are funded directly by the government within Zambia, but in light of minimal tourism, there has been a significant impact on funding. As a result, these teams are not able to be deployed or supported at full capacity.
With this grant, Musekese Conservation hopes to ensure employment for these wildlife rangers, and ensure consistent messaging among Zambian communities that protecting the natural world is essential and can be a sustainable form of employment.
Funding will support the training and equipping of an additional 2 anti-poaching teams, increase training opportunities for scouts and staff around the 2,400 square kilometres of the Musekese-Lumbeya region in the Kafue National Park.
Okapi Conservation Project
Organization: Okapi Conservation Project
Location: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Species Focus: Okapi
Goal: Radio Broadcasts & Health Care Provisions
With funding from the WCN Emergency Relief Fund, OCP educators were able to their expand their public radio broadcasting capacity during a critical time for healthcare communications, in remote regions where radio is the primary form of communication. This grant supported the purchase of five microphones, a radio transmitter/receiver, dictaphone, computer, Microsoft Office, and solar system that enabled the Epulu community to now have a fully functioning radio studio that reaches the entire southern region of the Okapi Wildlife Reserve.
This grant also supplied 20 of the most rural healthcare clinics in the region with basic healthcare supplies, including: 120 bed frames and mattresses, 80 buckets, 240 pans, and 120 boxes of soap. Healthcare capacity in the region is severely limited, but receiving even the most basic supplies improved the capacity of these healthcare centers to treat patients that require immediate and overnight care.
Painted Dog Conservation
Organization: Painted Dog Conservation
Species Focus: African Wild Dog
Goal: Employing the Local Community for anti-Poaching Efforts
This grant allowed PDC to employ local community members to join their Anti-Poaching Unit on a full time basis for three months at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to below-average rainfall and the pandemic, PDC had witnessed a surge in poaching around Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. Many local families that historically relied on income from subsistence farming and relatives working in the safari and tourism industry were forced to rely on wildlife for subsistence.
Luckily, PDC’s paid anti-poaching unit in Mabale were able to help increase their patrol effort from 210 to 363 patrols over three months, and 2,861 total snares were recovered. Many members of the anti-poaching unit are also former students from PDC’s Bush Camp, and each member was given a daily allowance and provided appropriate clothing / uniform and basic camping equipment.
Organization: Proyecto Tití
Species Focus: Cotton-top Tamarin
Project Goal: Remote Learning Under Shelter In Place Protocol
With this Emergency Relief funding, Proyecto Tití’s education team adapted their in-person education programs to a remote learning design in response to nationwide school closures due to COVID-19. Staff developed at-home activity packages, delivering booklets and supplies to students’ homes, accompanied with guidance through WhatsApp groups, phone calls, and appropriate social-distancing home visits.
Proyecto Titi still managed to engage 1,200+ students remotely. Although programming was voluntary for students, improvements in their knowledge of wildlife and issues impacting cotton-tops did improve, although with less significance than in-person classes. Proyecto Titi believes this is because in-person classroom learning provides students with an opportunity for a greater understanding of more complex concepts and opportunities to exchange ideas with instructors and classmates. Despite these challenges, Proyecto Titi this new format allows PT to a wider audience more consistently.
Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association
Organization: Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association
Species Focus: Grey crowned cranes
Goal: Strengthen teams of Rangers and Community Champions
With this funding, RWCA hoped to decrease the number of illegal activities and poaching events that have increased due to the lock-down measures implemented in Rwanda.
RWCA’s Rugezi Marsh Rangers completed 1,398 patrols, educating community members, reporting illegal activities and recording sightings of cranes. RWCA’s Community Champions also completed an average of two field visits a per week, raising awareness among at least 5,650 community members through meetings and events and recording sightings of cranes. The teams also regularly monitored the breeding behavior of cranes at key crane habitats, recording 69 breeding pairs and 134 chicks hatched, keeping cranes and community members resilient to the shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saiga Conservation Alliance
Organization: Saiga Conservation Alliance
Species Focus: Saiga antelope
Goal: Fill Gaps for the Stepnoi Reserve Rangers
This Emergency Relief funding supported the rangers of Russia’s Stepnoi Reserve to carry out critical daily anti-poaching activities. Due to the pandemic, state funding that had historically been awarded to the rangers of the Stepnoi Reserve was cut drastically.
The project addressed the dual threats of poaching and steppe fires directly by giving the Stepnoi Reserve’s rangers the necessary tools to increase anti-poaching and fire prevention patrols, and provide much needed repairs to the reserve’s fleet of off-road vehicles. Thanks to this funding, rangers were able to complete over 25 anti-poaching patrols and fire prevention activities across an area of 530 kilometers.
Snow Leopard Conservancy
Organization: Snow Leopard Conservancy
Species Focus: Snow Leopard
Goal: Create resilient, conservation-conscious communities in Nepal in the face of COVID-19
With this grant, SLC will conduct vocational skill trainings in carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and masonry skills to enhance non-tourism revenues for 538 community members of the Narpa Bhumi valley, which overlaps with some of Nepal’s prime snow leopard habitat. Community members identified these training needs as high priorities during recent community consultations. SLC will also as improve communication and internet connectivity throughout the area to help remote communities have access to health information, telemedicine, market information, and other routine and emergency services.
Until this year, the valleys supplemented their subsistence livelihoods with income from tourism. As incomes have dropped, wildlife threats have increased, putting community members and snow leopards at risk. These skills and resources will enable community members to create diversified, self-sustaining income streams, and will be conducted in close collaboration with local government authorities, embedding these skills into future development efforts.
Spectacled Bear Conservation
Organization: Spectacled Bear Conservation
Species Focus: Spectacled Bears
Goal: Felti Artisan Salaries
This project addressed the negative impact that a loss of income had on the lives of nearly fifty female artisans in Peru and contributed to community and program resilience.
Feltis are dry needle-felted ornaments made by women from rural and indigenous communities in northern Peru, and this industry was projected to decline by 85% as a result of business closures caused by COVID-19. During this economic downturn, SBC was able to provide a small but consistent amount of work to Felti artisans.
Most of the women have participated in the program for years and rely on their salaries to care for their families. Without this monthly income, the women struggle to meet their families’ basic needs for food and medicine.
Tikki Hywood Foundation
Organization: Tikki Hywood Foundation
Species Focus: African pangolins
Goal: Pangolin Rescue & Release Programs
Pangolins are globally recognized as the most trafficked mammal. In Africa the Tikki Hywood Foundation (THF) is recognized as the authority in the rehabilitation and release of pangolins back to their natural state. With this grant, THF will be able to compensate the pangolin minders of two sites to enable additional funding to be directed towards support of enhanced efforts to address the threat of pangolin trafficking by furthering partnerships between confiscating authorities and collaborators who can successfully return recovered animals back to protected wild areas.
90% of all currently established pangolin rescue efforts in Africa have consulted the THF in some capacity on methodology and techniques for working with pangolins. The decimation of the species continues at an increasing rate that has been elevated by the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, the number of recovered pangolins that require rehabilitation and the costs associated with this rehabilitation are rising, as is the need for increased THF staffing.
WCN Scholarship Fund
Organization: WCN Scholarship Fund
Species Focus: Multiple
Goal: Ensuring Scholars Finish Field Work Despite COVID-19
When COVID-19 struck, many WCN Scholars’ final research and academic plans were thrown in the air. Many had to increase their budgets to cover necessary COVID safety gear (such as masks, sanitizers, test costs), as well as safe and secure lodging in the field, and increased transport costs. The pandemic has also caused rampant inflation in many countries, sometimes tripling the costs of fieldwork from this time last year. This support will allow the following scholars to continue their intended field work:
- Ambika Prasad Khatiwada: Chinese pangolin, Nepal
- Monsoon Pokharel Khatiwada, Dhole, Nepal
- Masud Lahut: Baluchistan black bear, Iran
- James Watuwa, African elephant, Uganda
- Damber Bista, Red pandas, Nepal
- Md Tarik Kabir: Western hoolock gibbon, Bangladesh
- Shashank Poudel, Leopard, Nepal
- Charles Emogor: White bellied pangolin, Nigeria
Wildlife Crime Prevention
Organization: Wildlife Crime Prevention
Species Focus: Lions, and other wildlife
Goal: Bridge Financing for Detection Dog Unit in Zambia
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, WCP’s Detection Dog Unit has not only noticed an increase in poaching, due to financial implications but also noticed that contraband is being hidden in unusual places and types of transport.
With this grant, WCP will increase the number of operations on major wildlife trafficking transit routes as in under-patrolled areas, and improve intelligence led operations by:
- Providing canine units with operational funding, mobility, and specialized equipment to effectively carry out their responsibilities,
- Continue to correlate national DDU information gathering and collaboration with 4 other dog units in Zambia
- Continued mentorship by the DDU Technical Advisor/trainer for continued development and mentorship of the K9s and handlers
Zambian Carnivore Programme
Organization: Zambian Carnivore Programme
Species Focus: Lions, Wild Dogs,Cheetah, Leopards, & Hyena
Goal: Support COVID-19 impacts on wildlife-economy dependent communities and large carnivores
With this grant, ZCP will grow their “clean sweeps” hire unemployed eco-tourism lodge staff during the pandemic to collect snares set to hunt wildlife in an unselective way manner. This anti-snaring effort will reduce the impact of snaring by-catch on all five large carnivores (cheetah, wild dog, lion, spotted hyena, and leopard) across three ecosystems, maintain employment and familial support for a 32-person local Zambian conservation team.
A full-time Zambian-registered local wildlife vet is also employed in each site to conduct de-snaring rescues and collarings for continued monitoring of vulnerable wildlife. The program helps to protect hundreds of animals, but at the same time, puts much needed funding back in to the community at this major time of need.