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First Rapid Action Fund grants made amid COVID-19 impacts

After recently launching the first ASAP species grant programmes exclusively for ASAP Partners, we are excited to have already been able to award 5 grants under the ASAP Species Rapid Action Fund, addressing urgent conservation needs of ASAP species. Response to the ASAP Species Conservation Grants was overwhelming, with over 50 applications submitted. Only a limited number of projects can be supported, and we will be announcing successful projects in December. 

ASAP Director, Nerissa Chao, says 

“We’re delighted to be able to directly support our Partners with funds for their conservation work, and the response to these two opportunities shows how great the need is. 

The funding required to save ASAP species goes far beyond our own grants, and we are continuing to work in partnership with like minded funders to support  species that need it the most.”

The impacts of COVID-19 on ASAP Partners

The two ASAP grants were launched at a time when many organisations were beginning to see the knock-on effects of COVID-19. Around the world, economies and budgets have been hit, and conservation has not been spared. Organisations that are dependent on funding from zoos or from international tourism (including volunteer donations and/or entrance fees from visitors to centres to support core costs) have been especially hard hit. 

In a survey of a segment of Partners in June, most respondents cited some form of activity delay as the main impact from COVID-19, due to travel bans or restrictions on gatherings. Over 70% told us that their funding is being, or is expected to soon to be, impacted. In addition to funding cuts, a number of Partners also shared reports of other impacts including habitat encroachment, increased poaching and reduced law enforcement and patrols.  

A Bali Myna using a Friends of National Parks nest box that before COVID-19, would have been funded and maintained by international volunteers. ©Friends of National Parks Foundation

We’re pleased that ASAP has been able to offset some of these challenges with funding and support like helping Partners with proposals to other funding sources. 

ASAP’s grants given to offset COVID-19 impacts

One of the first projects to be supported by an ASAP Species Rapid Action Fund grant is run by Friends of National Parks Foundation (FNPF) to maintain and monitor a network of nesting boxes for the Critically Endangered Bali Starling Leucopsar rothschildi, usually paid for and maintained by international volunteers. However, due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, these international volunteers are no longer in Bali, leaving the organisation without their main funding source and hands-on support.

Drh I Gede Nyoman Bayu Wirayudha, CEO of the Friends of National Parks Foundation said, 

This is a very challenging time to raise funds through ecotourism. With ASAP’s support, we can continue and improve our important Bali Myna conservation programme in Nusa Penida, Bali.”

Another project that ASAP is supporting which is also suffering from the effects of COVID-19 is run by Cikananga Conservation Breeding Centre (CCBC). CCBC has conservation breeding programmes for three ASAP songbirds (Black-winged Myna Acridotheres melanopterus, Javan Green magpie Cissa thalassina and Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush Garrulax rufifrons), all of which are on the brink of extinction in the wild due to demand from the songbird trade. Maintaining sustainable populations in captivity with the intention of future release is pivotal for the conservation of these species.

Javan Green Magpie Cissa thalassina) ©Cikananga Conservation Breeding Centre

Due to the impacts of COVID-19 on the zoo community which usually supports this work, CCBC saw their funding significantly reduced. On top of this, knock-on effects of COVID-19 have increased the price of medical supplies and feed. With the breeding season for the Javan Green Magpie and Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush fast approaching, keeping the programme going is urgent. ASAP teamed up with the Oriental Bird Club to provide the funds, which will increase the conservation outlook for the three ASAP species. 


The ASAP Species Rapid Action Fund is supported by Fondation Segre


Featured image credit: Cikananga Conservation Breeding Center

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