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Annual Report 2019

Ten Years of Species Conservation

The year 2019 marks the tenth year since the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund first distributed financial support to conservation projects worldwide. From small grants to large-scale, multiple-year support, the MBZ Fund's role as a donor organization is critical to global conservation efforts for endangered species.


A decade after the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund first distributed grants in 2009, we are pleased to report that 2,245 projects in more than 160 countries have benefited from our support of their efforts to conserve more than 1,400 separate species and subspecies around the globe.

Founded by His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the Fund seeks to support species conservation in all its forms. In this regard it is dynamic, in that it can tailor the delivery of support to best fit the specific requirements of recipients; for example, by acting as the executing agency for the GEF-funded Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project (DSCP); providing funding for big cat conservation through the US-based conservation organization Panthera; and disbursing small, targeted grants to conservationists in the field.

The Fund is perhaps best known for this latter aspect of its work – its capacity to quickly approve and disburse small grants to individual researchers and conservationists to support or maintain their efforts in the field. The small grants programme is structured around an initial endowment of US $27.5 million, the proceeds of which are disbursed to support species conservation projects worldwide. With over US $1.5 million in funding distributed in 2019 to 171 different projects, this programme continues to achieve significant impacts on the conservation of an expanding range of plants, animals and ecosystems.

Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak
Managing Director

Hou Diving Petrel

About Us

The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund seeks to empower species conservation efforts and programmes across the globe, embodying the deep-rooted commitment of both the government and the people of Abu Dhabi to the preservation of our natural heritage.


Species-level conservation today does not enjoy the same prominence in the environmental/conservation sphere as it once did. Many of the original global conservation organisations were established with a strong species focus, but over time much of the emphasis and funding has moved to other environmental priorities and grown in scope to include other disciplines.

Whereas the primary activities of species conservationists (many of whom were originally hunters, animal lovers or simply enthusiastic amateur naturalists) involved weeks and months in the field, a significant portion of conservation today takes the form of lab work, or conservation planning and analysis conducted in offices. Whilst these are all pursuits that are vital to the goals of global conservation, the decline of field-based species conservation as a discipline within the evolving environmental movement is an alarming trend that must be resisted.

Cochabamba,Campero,Omereque,San Carlos


In view of this crisis facing species conservation, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, established this dedicated fund for the provision of support to conservation initiatives worldwide.

To preserve the creatures and habitats we treasure­ – and indeed depend on – within their natural habitat, the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund seeks to support on-the-ground champions of species conservation through its small grants programme; the individuals in villages, field stations, laboratories and homes who are dedicated to conserving their local (and the world’s global) threatened species.

The Fund assists their work through focused financial support from the proceeds of its endowment, nurturing the next generation of conservationists by making the best practices available to them using innovative communication methods.

In addition, the Fund simultaneously directs the allocation of financial assistance from other sources in Abu Dhabi to support various conservation initiatives and programmes worldwide – such as the wild cat conservation organisation, Panthera – and acts as the executing agency for the GEF-funded Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project.

Through its events and additional activities, the Fund also seeks to recognise individual leaders in the field of species conservation whose passion and commitment often go unnoticed, and in doing so, to inspire others with an interest in the field.

Small grants are just part, albeit an important part, of our portfolio. The MBZ Fund also manages conservation projects on behalf of others, as well as the many species conservation interests of Abu Dhabi.



The Fund has sought to make its small grants programme available to all conservation efforts without discrimination by location, taxa or species, other than through guidance from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and in response to applications received.

Of the species on the Red List, the Fund focuses most of its financial attention on those that are Critically Endangered (CR) or Endangered (EN), or about which little is known (Data deficient [DD]). The Red List features around 1,000 species that are believed to be extant but in populations of less than 100 individuals, and the Fund would advocate that every one of these is worthy of conservation attention and funding.

In the eyes of the Fund, therefore, the lichen is considered just as important as the lion, and it allocates support purely on its assessment of the impact that a suggested project will have on the conservation of a given species – whatever its role in an ecosystem or relationship to humans.

Obô Land Snail, Sao Tome and Principe

The number and breadth of species that the Fund supports, and the variety of roles it fulfils to achieve its objectives, illustrate the fact that whilst it is highly specific in terms of its aims – to support both individual and collective species conservation activities – it is also extremely dynamic in its methods.

This represents the true strength of the Fund as a global conservation actor and reflects a long-standing tradition of philanthropy and conservation in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, where major programmes have been successful in protecting species as diverse as the Arabian oryx, gazelle, Houbara Bustard, dugong and marine turtles.

It is this tradition that lies at the heart of the work of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, which strives to embody and apply the Emirate’s inherent appreciation for the natural world and its biodiversity through its unique and genuinely international approach to philanthropy and species conservation.

This represents the true strength of the Fund as a global conservation actor and reflects a long-standing tradition of philanthropy and conservation in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Small Grants

The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund provides financial support in the form of small grants of less than $25,000 to conservation project worldwide. The small grants programme is as much for the species as the conservationists working passionately to protect them.

Small Grants

Case Studies

While the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund supports a diverse range of species through direct funding and engagement with multi-partner conservation projects around the world, the species coverage and number of conservationists supported each year by its small grants programme is unparalleled.

Thousands of these small-scale species conservation projects have reached all corners of the globe, from Antarctica to Belarus, Alabama to Australia, offering targeted support to enthusiastic conservationists and researchers in the field.

These intrepid individuals are the first line of defence against species extinction – passionate people who have dedicated their lives to the conservation of the creatures and plants they love and we depend on to retain our planet’s unique biodiversity.

Swimming against the current
Africa’s biggest ever fish rescue operation is now in full force thanks to rescue efforts by conservationists, local communities and landowners who are monitoring and relocating one of South Africa’s most threatened and charismatic freshwater fish from compromised territories to safer habitats. The free-flowing and undammed Olifants-Doring River running through the Cederberg Mountains, is the ‘last remaining outpost’ and home to South Africa’s most endangered migratory freshwater fish known as the Clanwilliam sandfish (Labeo seeberi). Rapidly declining sandfish populations are under pressure from ‘invasive species, water abstraction and sedimentation’ in the only two known tributaries where they still spawn. Urgent conservation intervention is needed. Provided with a grant of $12,800 in 2019, for the very first time the team surveyed the spawning migration of adult sandfish on the Biedouw River across 16 established sites. The team translocated ‘610 young sandfish from dangerous habitats to a safer section of river upstream’ with promising results. The MBZ Fund grant lead to co-funding from the National Geographic Society in 2020, and working together with land-owners to “clear alien fish and create sandfish sanctuaries.” The grant also led to the project undertaking Africa’s biggest ever fish rescue, where...

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Small Grants

Small grants supported 2019

Click any column header to reorder. Use the search to filter for anything. For example, enter "frog" to see all grants for frogs or "India" to see all grants in that country. You can also filter by Species Type and IUCN Category using the tools in the bottom left. Hover over a row to read a brief grant summary. If the Vernacular Name is in green text, the grant Principal Investigator (PI) has published their own case study on our main website.

IUCN Red List classifications

EWExtinct in the Wild
CRCritically Endangered
NTNear Threatened
LCLeast Concern
DDData Deficient
NENot Evaluated

Species Types

TypeIUCNVernacular NameScientific NameNameName of OrganizationCountry, ContinentFunding
Fungi NE boletus Boletus chilensis Giuliana Furci Fungi Foundation Chile, South America $14,000
Fungi NE Amanita macrocarpa Amanita macrocarpa Olivier Raspé Center of Excellence in Fungal Research and School of Science, Mae Fah Luang University Thailand, Asia $7,500
Plant CR St Helena Boxwood Mellissis begoniifolia Martina Peters St Helena National Trust Saint Helena, Africa $12,500
Plant CR Toothed-cone Cycad Encephalartos pterogonus David Roberts Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology Mozambique, Africa $16,500
Invertebrate CR Crau Plain Grasshopper Prionotropis rhodanica Linda Bröder Trier University France, Europe $10,000
Invertebrate VU Wallace's Giant Bee Megachile pluto Nicolas Vereecken Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) Indonesia, Asia $4,570
Invertebrate EN Yellow Waxtail Ceriagrion citrinum TCHIBOZO Séverin Centre de Recherche pour la Gestion de la Biodiversité (CRGB) Benin, Africa $5,000
Invertebrate CR Freshwater pearl Mussel Margaritifera marocana Mary Seddon IUCN SSC Mollusc Specialist Group Morocco, Africa $6,000
Invertebrate CR Texas Hornshell Popenaias popeii Jeremy Tiemann Illinois Natural History Survey Mexico, North America $6,000
Fish DD Ray-finned fish Enteromius guildi ELIJAH KOJO MENSAH University of Ghana Ghana, Africa $6,800
Fish CR hump-backed mahseer Tor remadevii Adrian Pinder Mahseer Trust India, Asia $11,700
Fish EN Mekong freshwater stingray Hemitrygon laosensis Sinsamout Ounboundisane FISHBIO Laos Laos, Asia $10,000
Amphibian NE Leptobrachella macrops Leptobrachella macrops Tang Duong Vietnam National Museum of Nature – Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology Vietnam, Asia $4,500
Amphibian DD Stuart's Mushroomtongue Salamander Bolitoglossa stuarti Georgina Santos-Barrera Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México Mexico, North America $5,000
Amphibian CR Ranwella's spined tree frog Polypedates ranwellai Dinal Samarasinghe N/A Sri Lanka, Asia $4,995
Amphibian NE Kalimantan Horned-Frog Megophrys kalimantanensis sp. nov. Violla Iskandar Maryam N/A Indonesia, Asia $4,290
Reptile CR Gialai Bent-toed Gecko Cyrtodactylus gialaiensis Vinh Quang Luu Vietnam National University of Forestry Vietnam, Asia $7,300
Reptile CR Guatemalan beaded lizard Heloderma charlesbogerti Brad Lock Oklahoma City Zoological Society Guatemala, North America $3,750
Reptile CR West African slender-snouted crocodile Mecistops cataphractus Emmanuel Amoah Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Ghana, Africa $7,300
Reptile CR Asian Brown Tortoise Manouria emys Shailendra Singh Turtle Survival Alliance-India (TSA-India) India, Asia $10,000
Bird CR Brazilian Merganser Mergus octosetaceus Gislaine Maria Disconzi Instituto Amada Terra de Inclusão Social Brazil, South America $10,000
Bird CR Red-fronted Macaw Ara rubrogenys Bennett Hennessey Asociacion Armnonia Bolivia, South America $10,000
Bird CR Banggai Crow Corvus unicolor Mochamad INDRAWAN Universitas Indonesia - Research Center for Climate Change Indonesia, Asia $8,200
Bird CR Antioquia Brushfinch Atlapetes blancae Ana Boudreau American Bird Conservancy Colombia, South America $10,000
Bird CR Akekee Loxops caeruleirostris Gilbert P Kea Garden Island Resource Conservation and Development Inc United States, North America $15,000
Bird NE Cordillera Azul Antbird Myrmoderus eowilsoni Andre Moncrieff Louisiana State University Peru, South America $4,800
Mammal VU Giant Armadillo Priodontes maximus Arnaud Desbiez ICAS- Instituto de Conservacao de Animais Silvestres Brazil, South America $12,500
Mammal CR Hill’s horseshoe bat Rhinolophus hilli Michelle Vryn Bat Conservation International Rwanda, Africa $9,184
Mammal VU Giant Ground Pangolin Smutsia gigantea Vincent Opyene Natural Resource Conservation Network (NRCN) Uganda, Africa $12,500
Mammal CR Sunda pangolin Manis javanica Eileen Larney Zoological Society of London Thailand, Asia $10,000
Mammal EN Chamba Sacred Langur Semnopithecus ajax Sanjay Molur Wildlife Information Liaison Development (WILD) Society India, Asia $12,500
Mammal VU Northern tiger cat Leopardus tigrinus Tadeu de Oliveira Instituto Pro-Carnívoros Brazil, South America $10,230
Mammal EN Flat headed cat Prionailurus planiceps Ang Bee Biaw The Mesozoic Explorers Sdn. Bhd. Brunei, Asia $10,524
Mammal CR Panamanian Red spider monkey Ateles geoffroyi panamensis Pedro Mendez-Carvajal FCPP Panama, North America $6,000
Invertebrate EN Adriatic Marbled Bush-Cricket Zeuneriana marmorata Filippo Maria Buzzetti Fondazione Museo Civico di Rovereto Italy, Europe $23,000
Plant NE Eugenia ochracea Eugenia ochracea Karinne Valdemarin State University of Campinas Brazil, South America $5,000
Plant EX Cynometra beddomei Cynometra beddomei Jose Mathew Sanatana Dharma College, Alappuzha, Kerala, India India, Asia $4,900
Invertebrate NE Green-breasted Longtail Teinobasis euglena Magdalena Nugrahani BISA Indonesia Indonesia, Asia $6,305
Amphibian DD pumpkin-toadlet Brachycephalus pernix Juliane Petry C Monteiro Universidade Estadual Paulista Brazil, South America $4,800
Amphibian NE Cabo Cruz bromeliad frog Eleutherodactylus sp. nov. Ansel Fong N/A Cuba, North America $2,300
Reptile EX Fernandina Giant tortoise Chelonoidis Phantasticus Adalgisa Caccone Yale University Ecuador, South America $5,000
Bird CR Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps Bengalensis Sain Dino Dahri DHARTEE DEVELOPMENT SOCIETY Pakistan, Asia $5,000
Mammal VU Nordmann's birch mouse Sicista loriger Mikhail Rusin Schmalhausen Institute of Zoology Ukraine, Europe $4,623
Mammal CR Namdapha Gliding Squirrel Biswamoyopterus biswasi Murali Krishna Amity Institute of Forestry and WIldlife, Amity University, Noida, India India, Asia $5,825
Mammal CR Northern White-cheeked Gibbon Nomascus leucogenys Tung Bui Center for Nature Conservation and Development (CCD) Vietnam, Asia $5,000
Plant EN Magnolia sulawesiana Magnolia sulawesiana Muhammad Fajri Ramadhan Herbarium Celebense (CEB) Indonesia, Asia $8,500
Plant CR Hau kuahiwi Hibiscadelphus distans Ben Nyberg National Tropical Botanical Garden United States, North America $9,500
Plant CR Madagascar banana Ensete perrieri Tefy ANDRIAMIHAJARIVO Missouri Botanical Garden Madagascar, Africa $8,000
Invertebrate DD Southwell’s Sylvan Coeliccia southwelli Rory Dow Naturalis Biodiversity Center Malaysia, Asia $12,000
Invertebrate NE Freshwater mussels Unionida Alexandra Zieritz University of Nottingham Indonesia, Asia $9,000
Fish EN Cat fish Chrysichthys walkeri Issah Seidu Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Ghana, Africa $8,720
Amphibian CR Togo slippery Frog Conraua derooi Caleb Ofori-Boateng Herp Conservation Ghana (Herp-Ghana) Ghana, Africa $12,000
Amphibian EN Zempoala axolotl (mountain stream siredon) Ambystoma altamirani Gregg Howard Freshwater Life Mexico, North America $10,000
Amphibian EX Heredia Robber Frog Craugastor escoces Jose Sandoval Siles University of Costa Rica, Experimental and Compared Pathology Laboratory Costa Rica, North America $5,115
Reptile CR Madagascar big-headed turtle Erymnochelys madagascariensis Leslie Wilmet Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust Madagascar, Africa $9,500
Reptile VU Nama Padloper Chersobius (Homopus) solus James Juvik Turtle Conservancy Namibia, Africa $11,000
Reptile CR Yangtze giant softshell turtle Rafetus swinhoei Long Nguyen Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Vietnam Program Office Vietnam, Asia $25,000
Bird CR Horned Curassow Pauxi unicornis Bennett Hennessey Asociacion Armnonia Bolivia, South America $8,000
Bird CR Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola Vasiliy Kostiushyn WWF Ukraine Ukraine, Europe $7,000
Bird CR Niau Kingfisher Todiramphus gambieri gertrudae Thomas GHESTEMME Société d'Ornithologie de Polynésie French Polynesia, Oceania $9,000
Bird CR Giant Ibis Thaumatibis gigantea Vorsak Bou BirdLife International Cambodia Programme Cambodia, Asia $10,000
Bird CR Spoon-billed Sandpiper Calidris pygmaea PYAE AUNG Biodiversity And Nature Conservation Association (BANCA) Myanmar (Burma), Asia $10,000
Mammal DD Selangor Pygmy Flying Squirrel Petaurillus kinlochii Mohamad Nur Arifuddin Mad Yusof Universiti Malaysia Kelantan Malaysia, Asia $12,500
Mammal EN Hairy-nosed otter Lutra sumatrana Vanessa Herranz Muñoz Centre for Biodiversity Conservation (CBC) Cambodia, Asia $11,225
Mammal CR Chinese pangolin Manis pentadactyla Ambika Prasad Khatiwada N/A Nepal, Asia $5,000
Reptile CR Turquoise Dwarf Gecko Lygodactylus williamsi Alfan Rija Sokoine University of Agriculture Tanzania, Africa $7,600
Reptile CR Nguru spiny pigmy Chameleon Rhampholeon acuminatus shadia kilwanila Sokoine University of Agriculture Tanzania, Africa $7,600
Mammal CR Rondo Dwarf Galago Galagoides rondoensis Robert Modest Sokoine University of Agriculture Tanzania, Africa $12,500
Mammal CR Niger Delta red colobus Piliocolobus epieni Rachel Ikemeh SW/Niger Delta Forest Project Nigeria, Africa $10,000
Mammal CR Kipunji Rungwecebus Kipunji Tim Davenport Wildlife Conservation Society Tanzania, Africa $12,500
Mammal CR grey-shanked douc langur Pygathrix cinerea Minerva Singh N/A Vietnam, Asia $6,000
Mammal VU Fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus Linda Castaneda The Fishing Cat Fund Sri Lanka, Asia $14,497
Mammal VU Prinailurus viverrinus Fishing Cat Tiasa Adhya St Xaviers College, University of Bombay India, Asia $12,920
Mammal VU Fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus Ashan Thudugala save fishing cat conservation Project / Small cat Advocacy & Research Sri Lanka, Asia $12,500
Bird CR Hooded Grebe Podiceps gallardoi GERMAN MONTERO ASOCIACION AMBIENTE SUR Argentina, South America $12,000
Fungi CR Stinking milk-cap Lactarius foetens Boris Armel OLOU Laboratory of Applied Ecology (LEA) Benin, Africa $10,000
Plant CR Nepenthes sumatrana Nepenthes sumatrana Muhammad Mansur Indonesian Institute of Sciences Indonesia, Asia $10,000
Plant CR Col de Juan Fernández Dendroseris litoralis Patricio López-Sepúlveda Universidad de Concepción Chile, South America $8,000
Plant EN Gerbera hypochaeridoides Gerbera hypochaeridoides Marrino Falitiana RAKOTOARISOA N/A Madagascar, Africa $4,500
Fish CR Damba mipentina Paretroplus maculatus Thomas Juhasz University of veterinary Medicine Madagascar, Africa $8,800
Amphibian CR Cameron Highland Sticky Frog Kalophrynus yongi Connor Butler University of Southampton, UK Malaysia, Asia $6,750
Amphibian NE Mixteca Cloud-forest treefrog Charadrahyla sakbah Liz Amelia Alfaro Juantorena Naturam Sequi Mexico, North America $8,900
Reptile CR Union Island gecko (aka Grenadines clawed gecko) Gonatodes daudini Katrina Collins Coy Union Island Environmental Attackers (UIEA) Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, North America $13,900
Reptile CR Forsten's Tortoise Indotestudo forstenii Christine Light Turtle Survival Alliance Indonesia, Asia $5,500
Reptile VU Home's Hinge-back Tortoise Kinixys homeana Victor Agyei N/A Ghana, Africa $5,000
Bird CR Blue-billed curassow Crax alberti Chris Holmes Wildlife Conservation Program at the Houston Zoo Colombia, South America $5,000
Bird CR Royal Cinclodes Cinclodes aricomae Rodrigo Wilber Soria Auza Asociación Armonía Bolivia, South America $10,000
Mammal EN Russian Desman Desmana moschata Samuel Turvey Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London Russia, Asia $7,000
Mammal EN Sulawesi Spiny Rat Echiothrix leucura Kevin Rowe Museums Victoria Indonesia, Asia $12,500
Mammal VU White-bellied Pangolin Phataginus tricuspis Anita Appiah-Adjei N/A Ghana, Africa $6,000
Mammal EN Red Colobus Monkey Piliocolobus tephrosceles Krista Milich Washington University in St. Louis Uganda, Africa $12,500
Mammal VU African savanna elephant Loxodonta Africana Anagaw Atickem Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network Ethiopia, Africa $7,000
Mammal EN Red-bellied monkey Cercopithecus erythrogaster erythrogaster Georges HEDEGBETAN Centre Régional de Recherche et d'éducation pour un Développement Intégré (CREDI) Benin, Africa $11,500
Mammal EN White-bellied Spider Monkey Ateles belzebuth Sara Álvarez Solas Universidad Regional Amazonica Ikiam Ecuador, South America $12,500
Amphibian NE Flea-toad Brachycephalus pulex Wendy Bolaños N/A Brazil, South America $5,000
Fungi NE Morels Morchella sp. Daniela Torres Fungi Foundation Chile, South America $10,000
Invertebrate NE Nepal Wall Lobinga lehmanni Bimal Raj Shrestha N/A Nepal, Asia $5,000
Amphibian CR Cuban Robber Frog Eleutherodactylus cubanus Pedro López Del Castillo Turquino National Park Cuba, North America $3,820
Reptile CR Darevsky’s Viper Vipera darevskii Konrad Mebert N/A Turkey, Asia $4,800
Reptile NE Attenborough's fan-throated lizard Sitana attenboroughii Zeeshan Mirza National Centre for Biological Sciences India, Asia $5,000
Amphibian CR Intermediate Puddle Frog Phrynobatrachus intermedius Gilbert Baase Adum SAVE THE FROGS! Ghana Ghana, Africa $25,000
Bird CR Stresemann's Bristlefront Merulaxis stresemanni Ana Boudreau American Bird Conservancy Brazil, South America $7,000
Bird CR Chinese Crested Tern Thalasseus bernsteini Ivan Sarenas Balete Conservancy Philippines, Asia $3,500
Mammal EN Golden-rumped sengi Rhynchocyon chrysopygus Rael Nelly Nyanchama Pwani University Kenya, Africa $3,730
Mammal NT Marbled cat Pardofelis marmorata Ganga Ram Regmi Global Primate Network Nepal Nepal, Asia $7,500
Mammal VU Fishing Cat Prionailurus viverrinus Murthy Kantimahanti Eastern Ghats Wildlife Society India, Asia $9,500
Mammal VU Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus Gladys Ng'umbi Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) Tanzania, Africa $8,385

Project Management

The MBZ Fund successfully executed the multi-year, multi-partner, $5.3m Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project on behalf of the Global Environment Facility and UNEP. The project represented the first coordinated global effort ever undertaken to conserve dugongs and their seagrass habitats.

The Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project

The Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project represented the first coordinated global effort ever undertaken to conserve dugongs and their seagrass habitats. Having supported 43 individual conservation initiatives in key countries across the globe that host populations of these charismatic marine mammals, the mission of the Project was to prevent the loss of dugongs and their seagrass habitats throughout the Indian and Pacific Ocean basins.

After four years of operation, the project was successfully completed in March 2019. This was partnership between the Mohammed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, the United Nations Environment Program, the Global Environment Facility and the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Dugongs and their Habitats throughout their Range (Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals).

Administered from Abu Dhabi, its 43 sub-projects were based in key dugong hotspots around the world: Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mozambique, the Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste and Vanuatu.

View website
Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) male at night, Sarychat-Ertash Strict Nature Reserve, Tien Shan Mountains, eastern Kyrgyzstan


The MBZ Fund manages a portfolio of Abu Dhabi's philanthropic interests related to species conservation that extends across the world and different species.



Supporting Panthera and global wild cat conservation

Through its international partnerships, the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund seeks to support major efforts to ensure the wellbeing of species under threat across the globe. One such example is the Fund’s strong and ongoing support for Panthera – the only organisation that is devoted exclusively to the conservation of the world’s 40 wild cat species and their ecosystems.

Powered by the expertise of the world’s premier cat biologists, Panthera develops and implements conservation strategies for large cats – including Cheetahs, Jaguars, Leopards, Lions, Pumas, Snow leopards and Tigers – as well as for the world’s most threatened small cat species. Panthera’s activities include the following major programmes.

Mapping the future of the Jaguar in the Americas
This bold, regionally-focused initiative will pave the way for further international cooperation and awareness regarding Jaguar protection initiatives.

Ending poaching in Africa
In southern Africa, Panthera has made great progress in reducing intensive poaching of Cheetahs, Leopards, Lions and their prey in Kafue National Park, Zambia, and Limpopo National Park, Mozambique. Panthera also supports anti-poaching efforts in Gabon’s Batéké Plateau National Park.

Tigers on the rebound in South Asia
Thanks to intensive protection and innovative community programs initiated at Panthera’s ‘Tigers Forever’ sites in India and Nepal, survey results released in 2018 showed that Tigers are bouncing back, providing hope for their recovery in other areas.

Saving Snow Leopards with Tourism in India
In Ladakh, northern India, Panthera works with the Snow Leopard Conservancy–India Trust to improve local livelihoods and transform the image of Snow leopards from livestock killers to valuable assets.

View website


The financial reporting of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund focuses on the performance of its endowment, as well as the reporting of an independent auditor who ensures compliance with financial standards set by the government of Abu Dhabi. View our 2019 Audited Financial Statement




The endowment of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund was created in April 2009, with an initial allocation of $27.5m. Since then, it has been managed in such a way as to provide for the financial needs of the small grants programme in perpetuity.

The long-term objective of the endowment, as described in its Investment Policy Statement, is:

  1. to make annual distributions for the benefit of species conservation, in accordance with the MBZ Fund’s spending rule;
  2. to preserve the capital in US dollars over a 10-year time horizon; and, to the extent that these two objectives are met;
  3. to grow the capital by having financial returns in excess of the distributions made.

It is worth noting that the Fund celebrated its first decade at the end of April 2019. The endowment’s capital has risen from $27.5m (initial allocation) to $29.9m at the end of 2019, while $14.8m have been distributed in grants over the same period, achieving all three of the endowment’s goals.

Distributions for 2019 were $1.5m but the last $0.5m were taken from the endowment bank account in January 2020, after the end of the reporting period.

The Fund’s Investment Policy targets a long-term rate of return on assets of 5% net, measured in USD and using a total return approach (income as well as capital gains). Since inception, the annualised net performance of the endowment has been +4.7% (MW), approximately in line with the target.

At the end of 2018, a revised Investment Policy Statement came into force, with some changes in the strategic asset allocation (reduction in Equities and increase in Private Equity, introduction of Real Estate and of Private Debt, reduction of Microfinance). At the end of the year, the endowment was managed by Goldman Sachs, Banque Pictet, Oaktree Capital (Private Debt) and PGIM (Real Estate).

The endowment’s capital has risen from $27.5m (initial allocation) to $29.9m at the end of 2019, while $14.8m have been distributed in grants over the same period


2019 was a great year for financial markets, as a number of downside risks that investors had feared would materialise were in fact avoided. In the end, 2019 didn’t see a recession in the US or Europe, despite previous fears of a slowdown and an inversion in the US yield curve (2y vs 10y). There was no no-deal Brexit. And there was no intensification of the commercial war between the US and China (to the contrary, a phase-one trade deal was agreed between the two countries). As a result, all categories of financial assets went up in 2019, a stark contrast to 2018, when the vast majority suffered.

In this context, the MBZ Fund portfolio delivered a net performance of +10.1% (MW). The “traditional” portfolio (equities and fixed income) managed by Goldman Sachs delivered +14.8% while the “alternative” portfolio (private equity, private debt, hedge funds and real estate) mostly managed by Banque Pictet delivered +7.6%.

All categories of financial assets went up in 2019…In this context, the MBZ Fund portfolio delivered a net performance of +10.1% (MW).


Distribution of funds

Distribution of proceeds from endowment

In 2019 the Fund supported 171 projects selected from 1,647 grant applications. The selected projects, located in 62 countries across six continents, shared $1,508,529 in funding. These projects covered 164 different species, 92 of which had not previously been supported by the Fund.

Distribution of funds by species type
Distribution of funds by continent
North America
South America
Distribution of Funds by IUCN Red List
Not Evaluated
Data Deficient
Least Concern
Near Threatened
Critically Endangered
Extinct in the Wild

The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund remains dedicated to fulfilling the vision of His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to support species conservation efforts in all their forms across the globe. Inspired by this vision, and the dedication of the many conservationists, researchers and scientists working in the field to assess and protect our most vulnerable flora and fauna, the Fund is committed to preserving the extraordinary biodiversity of Earth for generations to come.

Mailing address:

The Mohamed bin Zayed Species
Conservation Fund
P.O. Box 131112
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates

Spotted Ground Thursh, Malawi
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