2012 Grant Finalists
Through the Zoo Boise Conservation Fund, Zoo Boise has $110,000 to grant to four incredible conservation organizations and we would like your help to decide which ones! Voting is open October 1 - 28, 2012. Please review the finalists and then vote for your two favorites in each category.
The winning projects are here!
- Chimpanzee - New Nature Foundation
- Gorilla - Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project
- Tiger - Wildlife Conservation Society
- Sun Bear - Land Empowerment Animals People
- Lemur - Henry Doorly Zoo
- Okapi - Wildlife Conservation Society
- Radiated Tortoise - Turtle Survival Alliance
- Umbrella Bird - Tulane University
- Wolverine - Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness
Finalist #1- Category A
Kibale Fuel Wood Project & Kibale Eco-Char Initiative
New Nature Foundation
Species Focus: Chimpanzee
Country, Continent: Uganda, Africa
The New Nature Foundation has worked in and around Uganda’s Kibale National Park since 2000, utilizing support from Zoo Boise’s Conservation Fund since 2008 to protect this outstanding natural jewel. KNP is an amazing haven for biodiversity, home to chimpanzees, elephants, lions, and many more of your favorite African animals. Tragically, the balance that once existed between humans and wildlife has all but vanished. NNF’s projects, the KFWP & KECI, help conserve Kibale by addressing the needs of people around its border. Small scale logging by an ever-growing population is a major threat to the park’s wildlife. These projects safeguard biodiversity and improve people-park relations through empowerment of locals to reach greater energy efficiency.
Initiated in 2006 and run by Ugandan staff, the KFWP promotes efficient stoves and firewood crops, and has an extensive environmental education campaign. In 2013, the KFWP aims to update our four Science Centers, continue annual conservation competitions (which inspire thousands to explore, understand, and create solutions to issues facing themselves and the natural world), provide intensive training to staff and interns, and continue tree planting and stove building in five parishes around Kibale.
In 2011, NNF introduced the KECI to further address the fuel crisis by providing the possibility of economic development through innovative, ecologically sound ideas that modernize our constituent’s lifestyles. The KECI produces cooking fuel from farm waste and provides the product to families free of charge through a trading program. In 2013, the KECI will further expand its membership and explore additional partnerships where the idea of completely eradicating the need for wood fuel could be adopted.
NNF offers a variety of options to individuals so that they can develop their own expression of conservation. While the focus of the two projects remains narrow, the manifestation is quite broad.
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Finalist #2 - Category A
Life-Saving Medical Care for Confiscated Eastern Gorilla Orphans: Every Life Counts for These Critically Endangered Species
Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project
Species Focus: Mountain Gorilla and Eastern Lowland Gorilla
Country, Continent: Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa
The Mountain Veterinary Gorilla Project, also known as Gorilla Doctors, is dedicated to saving the lives of critically-endangered mountain gorillas and endangered eastern lowland gorillas living in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Gorilla Doctors dedicates significant resources to help rescue and provide medical care to gorillas orphaned by poachers hoping to sell them on the black market. Over the last few years, gorilla poaching has been on the rise and recent civil unrest has compounded our concern for gorillas in the region.
As first responders when an orphan is confiscated, Gorilla Doctors provides medical care including emergency treatment for ailments ranging from bullet wounds to pneumonia and ongoing 24-hour physical and emotional care through an experienced caregiver. Caregivers are tested for infectious diseases through our Employee Health Program to decrease the chance of spreading human disease to these extremely susceptible infants. While the gorillas remain in human care, they receive regular physical exams and treatment for illness and injury just like human children. Currently, Gorilla Doctors is responsible for the daily care and health of one eastern lowland gorilla at our interim quarantine facility in Rwanda and for the health of four mountain gorilla orphans (the only captive mountain gorillas in the world) at a partner sanctuary in DRC. The Zoo Boise Conservation Fund can help the Gorilla Doctors maintain the orphans’ good health, monitor disease exposure, gain knowledge in proper captive care, provide employment and capacity-building to local people, and educate the community of the gorilla’s importance as a national treasure. It is hoped that these orphans will one day return to the wild to contribute to their species’ survival. The Zoo Boise Conservation Fund can help us make this dream a reality.
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Finalist #3 - Category A
Understanding and Managing Canine Distemper Virus as a Disease Threat to Siberian Tigers
Wildlife Conservation Society
Species Focus: Siberian/Amur Tiger
Country, Continent: Russia, Asia
Siberian tigers in Russia are facing a new challenge: the emergence of a lethal disease. Canine distemper virus is a well-known cause of mortality in wild carnivores, but has only recently been identified in wild tigers. The virus affects the nervous system, and infected animals behave unusually, are disorientated and may appear blind.The disease has a high fatality rate, and appears to be occurring at a level that will place this threatened population at greater risk of extinction.
The goal of this project will be to identify practical solutions that will reduce the threat of canine distemper to Siberian tigers. To achieve this we will first implement a detailed epidemiological investigation that will identify the species that are contributing to the circulation of the virus and acting as a source of infection for tigers.Potential hosts include domestic dogs that live alongside tiger habitat, and other more abundant wild carnivores such as raccoon dogs, badgers and foxes. We will conduct health surveys of these populations, testing for the virus and for antibodies that indicate exposure. Survey results will be used to develop computer models to predict the impact of the disease on the tiger population, and identify vulnerabilities in the chain of infection.Once complete, these studies will be used to design cost-effective control strategies (such as targeted vaccination, or measures to reduce contact between tigers and infection sources) to aid protected area managers in reducing tiger infection rates.
The findings of the study will have direct relevance both to Siberian tigers and other carnivores that share their range, such as the Critically Endangered Amur leopard. More widely, this study will act as a template for addressing disease threats to tigers elsewhere in their range and serve as a model for future investigations in those areas.
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Finalist #4 - Category A
Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center- Giving Bear Cubs a Second Chance
Land Empowerment Animal People / Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center
Species Focus: Malayan Sun Bear
Country, Continent: Indonesia, Asia
The Malayan sun bear is the world’s smallest and least-known bear. These little bears live in the lowland rainforests of Southeast Asia and spend most of their time in trees searching for fruits or bees nests and resting on tree branches. Sun bears are named for a distinctive yellowish-white patch on their chest that is unique to each individual. Unfortunately, sun bears are threatened by loss of habitat as their forests disappear, and illegal hunting for bear parts, medicines, and to capture small cubs for pets.
The Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center (BSBCC) was created in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo to increase awareness and promote conservation of this little-known bear, as well as to rescue and rehabilitate the many young cubs kept alone and suffering in tiny cages as pets and roadside attractions.
BSBCC has rescued 27 bears over the last 2 years, and more keep coming in. At BSBCC, the bears live in night quarters linked to large forest enclosures in primary rainforest. For most of the bears, this is the first time they have touched natural ground since they were taken from their mothers. Sun bear mothers spend the first 3 years of their cub’s life teaching survival skills. BSBCC staff work with the bears daily to reintroduce them to the forest environment, provide enrichment, and teach skills like climbing and searching for food, so that eventually they can return to the wild. Reintroducing these bears will help ensure the long-term diversity and viability of sun bear populations in Borneo.
BSBCC also promotes increased protection for sun bears and their habitat through ongoing research and running a visitor center to educate the public and raise awareness about this species and threats to its survival. Funding from Zoo Boise will help BSBCC care for, rehabilitate and protect these bears.
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Finalist #1 - Category B
The Green Light Project - Reforestation, Solar Energy, and Community-Supported Conservation of the Black and White Ruffed Lemur
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo
Species Focus: Black and White Ruffed Lemur
Country, Continent: Madagascar, Africa
Madagascar is the only place in the world where lemurs are found in the wild. Lemurs needforests, but this island nation does not have much suitable habitat left. Deforestation and hunting havecaused the number of Black and white ruffed lemurs to decline by 80% over the past three decades. Now,this lemur can only be found in isolated groups and its survival depends on the expansion andreconnection of these forests.
To help save the Black and white ruffed lemur, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium (OHDZA) and its partner, Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership (MBP), are working with the community of Kianjavato. Here, there are multiple groups of this lemur all eating huge quantities of fruit – whole!The lemurs then pass the seeds unharmed, some nearly two inches long. OHDZA-MBP discovered that seeds collected from poop grow better than “unprocessed” seeds. In our unique reforestation project,we’re using seeds from the lemur doo-doo to rebuild a lemur-friendly forest. Not only are we planting the lemurs’ favorite seeds, but also timber and fruiting trees closer to the villages to provide additional food and income.
Since 2009 OHDZA-MBP has partnered with Kianjavato residents to grow these seeds in nurseries. Kids, parents, teachers, scientists and college students are working together to plant the seedlings into the gaps between the remaining forest fragments. From January to June 2012, 30,374 seedlings were planted! In 2013, the community will strive to plant 100,000 seedlings for The Green Light Project to earn solar panels for their schools designed by University of Nebraska’s Student Chapter of Engineers Without Borders-USA, bringing everyone closer to the ultimate goal of one million trees.Zoo Boise can help build nurseries, provide salaries for nursery managers, plant trees and support community education efforts by Conservation Fusion, an educational NGO. Let’s doo-doo it!
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- Category 2
Rebuilding the Future of the Okapi
Wildlife Conservation Society
Species Focus: Okapi
Country, Continent: Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa
The okapi, also known as the forest giraffe, is one of the most spectacular and intriguingmammals of Africa. Characterized by legs striped like a zebra and a head like a giraffe,the okapi has a very limited distribution with a stronghold in the Ituri Forest in thenortheastern corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In 1986, WCS began workingin Ituri with the Mbuti Pygmies to study and protect the little-known okapi. Since thattime, we have worked closely with the ICCN (Institut Congolais pour la Conservation dela Nature) to create the Okapi Faunal Reserve (OFR) to ensure their survival. However,the okapi remains severely threatened by poaching and habitat destruction. This becameall too clear when a recent armed attack by poachers on the ICCN reserve headquartersresulted in the tragic loss of ecoguards, community members, and thirteen okapi. In theaftermath of this event, the ICCN and conservation partners remain committed toprotecting the reserve and the communities that suffer from this violence. It is now moreimportant than ever to reinforce the ecoguard teams and provide them with the supportneeded to rebuild and carry on their incredibly courageous work. In order to achieve this,this project will work with ICCN and partners to increase the number of ecoguards andrebuild and restock damaged facilities. This project will result in much needed increasedprotection through specific targeted patrols and training for the new recruits in lawenforcement, community conservation and conflict resolution training. Basicinfrastructure and equipment will also be replaced in order to ensure the safety of theecoguards and allow them to do their job effectively. Such support will also send animportant message and underscore the commitment of partners to continue to protect theOFR and those who guard it.
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Finalist #3 - Category B
Rescue to Reintroduction: Reversing the Decline of Madagascar's Imperiled Radiated Tortoise
Turtle Survival Alliance
Species Focus: Radiated Tortoise
Country, Continent: Madagascar, Africa
The Radiated Tortoise (Astrochelys radiata) is one of Madagascar’s most iconic and culturally significant species. Highly sought after by well-organized criminal poaching networks for bush meat and the pet trade, the species is imperiled. Large adults are unnecessarily slaughtered by the hundreds while literally thousands of easily transported juveniles are shipped to Asia. Because they are considered to be the world’s most beautiful tortoise, a single animal can fetch up to $25,000 on the black market. This coupled with the destruction of nearly 98% of its habitat has pushed this species to the brink. Scientists have documented a catastrophic 50% decline in the wild in just 15 years with tortoises having vanished from entire landscapes in just the past five. If we fail to take serious action now, the Radiated Tortoise could be extinct in the wild in 20-40 years. For these reasons, it is ranked Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List.
While hundreds of illegally collected tortoises are confiscated each year, many die of neglect while being housed under inappropriate conditions. This is a major blow to conservation efforts because these tortoises can and should be returned to the wild. Confiscated tortoises can only contribute to the survival of their species if they can be rehabilitated and their health restored before release. The main obstacle here is the complete lack of adequate housing facilities. The Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) is seeking funding to build temporary holding facilities for confiscated tortoises, which will give them a second chance at life and to contribute to the survival of their species in the wild. This will also provide a currently powerless community with professional training and development, incentives, and employment opportunities as a result of conservation efforts. This project is one component of a larger,multidimensional reintroduction strategy for this species.
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Finalist #4 - Category B
Conservation of the Long-wattled Umbrellabird
Species Focus: Long-wattled Umbrellabird
Country, Continent: Ecuador, South America
What has a neck like a turkey, a voice like a cow, and a head like an umbrella? Would you believe a bird? It's called the Long-wattled Umbrellabird, and it may be the strangest looking and sounding bird in the world. The funny-sounding name comes from its ‘long wattle’,like the flesh hanging from a turkey’s neck only much longer and feathered, and its ‘umbrella’, a big crest of feathers like Elvis on a bad hair day. And when males sing,they sound just like a lost cow mooing in the forest. But it is not just good looks and a funny song that make this bird a priority for conservation: Umbrellabirds are critical to keeping their rainforest homes healthy. Why? It’s because many rainforest trees needthese flying Elvises to carry their seeds to suitable areas in order to reproduce. When Umbrellabirds disappear, this relationship is disrupted and the rainforest is degraded away from its natural state. The bad news is that Umbrellabirds are disappearing due to habitat loss and human intrusion. Fast. We ask your help to save a priority population in Ecuador, South America that is right in the crosshairs of extinction. Our team of highly trained local residents will outfit Umbrellabirds with lightweight GPS tracking units to see where they move, what fruits they eat, and where they drop seeds. This will allow us to identify Umbrellabird conservation requirements and to pinpoint priority areas for conservation. We will then reforest these areas with the help of local residents to create much-needed habitat and to link isolated forest patches. We will also provide environmental education to local children and adults about this ‘winged gardener’ and the critical seed dispersal services it provides. Please help us ensure the lasting conservation of this unique bird and the forests it inhabits.
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Finalist #5 - Category B
Idaho Panhandle Wolverine Study
Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness
Species Focus: Wolverine
Country, Continent: United States, North America
As a candidate for threatened species status, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) classifies wolverines as ‘warranted but precluded’. They believe wolverine survival is threatened, but have other priorities. FWS annually reviews status for each candidate and needs more information before wolverines can be listed as “Threatened”.
The ‘effective population’ (breeding females) of wolverines in the lower 48 states is only about 35. These few females only den in the mountains where deep snow stays into early summer. Climate models predict warmer average temperatures, reducing potential denning locations. Denning wolverines are very sensitive to human recreation. Learning more about wolverine habits and denning sites helps wildlife managers make decisions which will protect wolverine habitat.
Last winter Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness led a coalition of community groups and individual volunteers in partnership with Idaho Department of Fish and Game to study wolverines and other rare forest carnivores (fisher, marten and lynx) in the Idaho Panhandle region. Continued research is needed to determine if wolverines are residents or if they are individuals coming from other locations, locate den sites, and estimate habitat use. This information will be used by the Forest Service for travel planning and by the FWS in reviewing wolverines’ threatened species status. Information on wolverines and other rare forest carnivores is critical to conservation actions that are part of the Idaho’s “State Wildlife Action Plan”.
We will set up ‘bait stations’ in winter to determine the presence of wolverines and other rare forest carnivores, photograph them and obtain DNA samples. We will also set climate monitoring stations to collect data on microclimates, leading to a better understanding of preferred habitat conditions and develop baseline data to track climate changes and how they impact habitat. This unique citizens’ science project will create a public who care about wolverines.
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