Mohammed bin Zayed fund spent over $1.5m on endangered species

Mohammed bin Zayed fund spent over $1.5m on endangered species

Among the grants disbursed by the Mohammed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund last year $12,500 was for research and conservation of a rare, thought to be extinct dragonfly in Fujairah’s Wadi Wurayah.

By Silvia Radan/staff Reporter

Published: Tue 30 Jun 2015, 1:08 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:09 PM

A Siamese Crocodile

Abu Dhabi - The Mohammed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (MZSCF) has spent more than $1.5million last year, saving threatened, endangered or nearly extinct species around the world.

Established by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE Armed Forces in 2009, MZSCF has just released its 2014 annual report, a year that also marked its fifth anniversary of yearly conservation grants giving.

“Over the past five years the fund has supported 1,200 projects across 150 countries – 185 projects in 70 nations in the last year alone,” said Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, managing director of MZSCF.

All these 1,200 projects in the last five years summed up to $12 million. Every year, the fund gives away two types of relatively small grants, either up to $5,000 or for larger conservation projects, between $5,000 and $ 25,000.

“Mega grants, though important, cannot achieve what individual species grants can. Our targeted grants support a specific solution in a certain location, develop a network of people on the ground who can respond quickly to emergencies and local issues and both built and support a community of conservationists in biodiversity hot spots,” pointed out Al Mubarak.

Urothemis thomasi, Fujairah’s rare dragonfly.  — Supplied photos

Among the grants disbursed by the fund last year $12,500 was for research and conservation of a rare, thought to be extinct dragonfly in Fujairah’s Wadi Wurayah; $5000 was offered to help India’s fishing cat, an endangered wild cat, that lives in wetlands and feeds on freshwater fish; $15,000 was given to secure the survival of the last wild populations of Australia’s rarest desert fish, the red-finned blue eye fish; $12,000 was offered to save another critically endangered species, the siamese crocodile, native of Areng river in Cambodia; and $15,000 was given to ensure the survival of Coccothrinax jimenezii, an extremely rare palm tree, with only 43 trees remaining in Haiti and 18 in Dominican Republic.

Urothemis thomasi, Fujairah’s rare dragonfly, was about to be declared extinct, when suddenly re-discovered in Wadi Wurayah.

“We went into the wadi and took lots of photographs and collected lots of exuviae, which is the husk, the larvae case of the dragonfly, and I collected this funny exuvia. It was big, without any spines and I couldn’t work it out,” recollected David Chelmick, president of the British Odonatological Society, who was researching dragonflies in Wadi Wurayah.

“I then sent it to all sorts of people and all sorts of people wrote back and said they had no idea either. Eventually I sent it to a friend of mine in Germany and he worked out it was an exuvia from an Urothemis species and therefore it must be Urothemis thomasi. How about that! It was wonderful!”

Emirates Wildlife Society is now using MZSCF’s funds to ensure the reappearance of this colourful, agile and fragile 300 years old dragonfly, thought to be extinct, is not just a one time encounter.

Altogether, MZSCF received funding requests totalling $23.5 millions in 2014, but was only able to distribute $1,553,475.

To cope with the high demands, the criteria for funding was much more stringent last year with only 12.2 percent of applications being successful and even the ones on top of the list only receiving partial funding.

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