New Species Fund will change fortunes of world’s most endangered wildlife

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) has established a Species Fund that aims to restore key populations of highly threatened species to viable levels over the next two decades. Thanks to the generous support of Michel and Charlene de Carvalho, the Species Fund will enable FFI to build on its long history of saving threatened species from extinction.

Speaking about the initiative, FFI’s Director of Conservation Science & Design, Dr Abigail Entwistle, said, “The Species Fund is an exciting venture that will build on our experience with its sister fund for habitat protection, Halcyon Land & Sea, and provide species with dedicated support. For donors, this offers a great opportunity to invest funding into carefully designed projects and play a significant role in saving some of the world’s most endangered species.”

The Species Fund has already begun supporting a number of FFI projects. One of these aims to stabilise and rebuild a critical sub-population of hawksbill turtles in Nicaragua by working with communities to protect nests from poaching, reducing by-catch through improved fishing practices and changing public attitudes towards turtle egg consumption.

Another project seeks to double the population of wild Siamese crocodiles over the next five years and in the long term secure a viable population of at least 10,000 individuals in protected areas across Cambodia.

Siamese crocodile. Credit: Jeremy Holden/FFI.

Siamese crocodile. Credit: Jeremy Holden/FFI.

One of the rarest crocodilians in the world, this species has been eradicated from 99% of its range as a result of habitat loss and hunting, and FFI is working to establish sanctuaries that will protect the Siamese crocodile and its wetland habitat.

Vietnam’s Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys and Guinea’s forest elephants are also set to benefit from the fund.

Emergency response

Alongside these main grants, FFI has also set up a Species Emergency Response Fund to enable swift interventions when sudden emergencies threaten the future of species that are already highly threatened, or when there is a time-limited opportunity to improve the outlook for these species.

The Emergency Response Fund has already been used to support critical work with saiga antelopes in the wake of a devastating mass die-off event and to tackle an upswing in poaching of elephants in Chuilexi Conservancy, Mozambique.

To protect one of the world’s rarest snakes – the Saint Lucia racer – FFI and Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust have joined forces with the government’s Forestry Department and the Saint Lucia National Trust to carry out an emergency project enabled through the Species Fund and other grants.

Saint Lucia racer. Credit: Toby Ross.

Saint Lucia racer. Credit: Toby Ross/Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.

This project is protecting the racers from persecution and invasive alien predators, while also making preparations for reintroducing them to additional sites by establishing a captive breeding colony (trials are already under way using a related species), rebuilding prey populations, and designing a ‘mainland island’ that will use a predator-proof fence to keep these snakes safe.

Through this work, the project aims to increase the global population of Saint Lucia racers to at least 500 individuals across at least three locations by 2025.

Lenn Isidore, project coordinator in Saint Lucia says, “If we are successful – and I believe that we will be – we will show that a few committed and passionate individuals can make a difference. We will assert boldly that even in light of the multiplicity of challenges and threats, a small nation such as ours can serve as a conservation beacon. We can remind the world that even as the winds of extinction sweep across the globe, there is still hope.”