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Fishing Cat Habitat (Nepal) ©Sagar Dahal

Annual Report 2020

Conservation during human crisis

As Covid-19 became more widespread in 2020, its affects on conservation activities were apparent among our grant recipients who were unable to enter the field or lost revenue from dwindling ecotourism. The MBZ Fund took decisive action in 2020 to support these struggling conservation organizations by offering Covid-19 Relief Grants.

Foreword

The year started normally. Hardly anyone outside China paid attention to the respiratory illness that was causing severe disease, mass hospitalizations, and state-imposed social distancing; however, within a few months the world had entered a crisis. Businesses were being shuttered. Borders closed. Travel dwindled. Our cities quieted and species conservation activities came to a halt. A survey of our grant recipients in May 2020 revealed that conservation was in crisis, too.

Conservation philanthropy required a new approach. Although the MBZ Fund provided support for direct species conservation activities through June 2020, the Fund changed course for the remainder of 2020 and into 2021 to help supplant small conservation organizations’ loss of revenue. The MBZ Fund began providing grants for core costs like rent, utilities and salaries. In this report we highlight some examples of how the MBZ Fund Covid-19 Relief Grants provided respite from the punishing loss of revenue experienced by many cherished conservation organizations without whom species conservation would not be possible. While the tragic events of 2020 were devastating, we continue to be impressed with the resilience of nature and the conservation organizations working so passionately to protect it.

Razan Al Mubarak
Managing Director

Marvelous Spatuletail ©Owen Deutsch
Damselfly habitat condition (Indonesia) ©Hening Triandika Rachman

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.

WHY SPECIES CONSERVATION?

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.

Batagur baska (India) ©Shailendra Singh

How did COVID-19 affect The Fund?

The effects of Covid-19 were being strongly felt by Spring 2020. Countries in Europe and North America were more affected by the virus than countries on other continents; however, the measures to reduce the spread of the virus, such as social distancing and travel restrictions, were becoming commonplace.

In May 2020, the MBZ Fund surveyed its grant recipients to better understand how these prevention measures were affecting them. The survey (Click Here to Read the Report) found the pandemic had affected the ability of 83 percent of conservationists to conduct critical fieldwork, while 70 percent said their planned conservation activities had been canceled or postponed. Many organisations reported loss of revenue due to closures of parks, zoos, aquariums, and a severe decline in ecotourism.

As a relief measure for conservation organisations experiencing significant financial losses because of the pandemic, the MBZ Fund temporarily switched its focus from funding direct species conservation activities to helping support core costs, such rent, utilities, and/or salaries. This change in focus would apply to applications received between 1 July and 31 October, as well as those received between 1 November and 28 February 2021. After this, the MBZ Fund would go back to prioritizing support for direct conservation action.

Dolphin rescue team (Pakistan) ©Haroon Rasheed

Native plants at Buenaventura reserve nursery (Ecuador) ©James Muchmore

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 projects worldwide. The small grants programme is as much for the species as the conservationists and organisations 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 Argentina to Vietnam, offering targeted support to enthusiastic conservationists and researchers in the field.

These intrepid individuals and organisations 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.

Keeping Research Island Afloat
An island is usually the first land mass to be affected by a tidal wave. When that tidal wave is a global pandemic and the island is Utila Island, Honduras, the problem is exacerbated. Because Utila is home to a few Critically Endangered species, most notably the Utila Spiny-tailed Iguana and the Bica Anole, two reptiles that Tom Brown of Kanahau Utila is especially worried about. Kanahau Utila is part of Kanahau Wildlife Conservation, a newly registered NGO in Honduras. It is a non-profit network of environmentalists focused on biodiversity research and conservation. Its goal is to research the terrestrial biodiversity of Utila Island, cataloguing species occurrence as well as assessing population status and promoting the conservation of threatened species and ecosystems. The COVID-19 pandemic threatened the continuation of the study of the two above named species, as well as the bureaucratic organisational structure of the NGO owing to a loss of tourism revenue as a result of necessitated government restrictions. Pandemic-related travel restrictions crushed the ecotourism revenue model on which this conservation work was based. The Bica anole and Utila Spiny-tailed iguana are both listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red...

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Small Grants

Small grants supported 2020

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

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

Species Types

Amphibian
Bird
Fish
Fungi
Invertebrate
Mammal
Plant
Reptile
TypeIUCNVernacular NameScientific NameNameName of OrganizationCountry, ContinentFunding
Invertebrate DD Native Bees/ Non-apis bees Hymenoptera - Apidae Yeshwanth H M University of Agricultural Sciences, GKVK, Bengaluru -560065 India, Asia $15,000
Invertebrate VU Cameroon Spiny Katydid Pantecphylus kamerunus Charly OUMAROU NGOUTE IUCN SSC Grasshopper Specialist Group Cameroon, Africa $15,000
Invertebrate VU Galaxea astreata Galaxea astreata Natalie Andersen Kwanini Foundation Tanzania, Africa $19,000
Fish EN Greenback parrotish Scarus trispinosus Pedro Pereira Projeto Conservação Recifal (PCR) Brazil, South America $20,000
Fish CR Naked Characin Gymnocharacinus bergii Federico Kacoliris Fundación Somuncura Argentina, South America $20,000
Fish CR Great Hammerhead Sphyrna mokarran Chaitanya Krishna Foundation for Ecological Research, Advocacy & Learning (FERAL) India, Asia $20,000
Reptile CR Philippine crocodile Crocodylus mindorensis Merlijn van Weerd Mabuwaya Foundation Philippines, Asia $22,000
Reptile CR Northern River Terrapin Batagur baska Shailendra Singh Turtle Survival Alliance India, Asia $19,000
Bird CR Lear's Macaw Anadorynchus leari Glaucia Drummond Fundacao Biodiversitas Brazil, South America $11,000
Bird EN Marvelous spatuletail hummingbird Loddigesia mirabilis Constantino Aucca Chutas Asoaciación Ecosistemas Andinos - ECOAN Peru, South America $25,000
Bird CR Horned Curassow Pauxi unicornis Bennett Hennessey Asociacion Armonia Bolivia, South America $17,500
Mammal EN Okapi Okapia johnstoni John Lukas Okapi Conservation Project Congo, Democratic Republic of (Congo-Kinshasa), Africa $15,000
Mammal EN Baird's Tapir Tapirus bairdii Esteban Brenes-Mora Costa Rica Wildlife Foundation Costa Rica, North America $15,000
Mammal CR Western Lowland Gorilla Gorilla gorilla gorilla Nicholas Bachand Projet Gorille Fernan-Vaz Gabon, Africa $17,000
Mammal EN Sclater’s guenon Monkey Cercopithecus sclateri Ikponke Nkanta Tropical Research and Conservation Centre (TRCC) Nigeria, Africa $15,000
Mammal CR Niger Delta Red Colobus Monkey Piliocolobus epieni Rachel Ikemeh SW/Niger Delta Forest Project Nigeria, Africa $19,500
Mammal EN Andean cat Leopardus jacobita Juan Carlos Huaranca Andean Cat Alliance Bolivia, South America $10,000
Mammal VU Fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus Tiasa Adhya Fishing Cat Conservation Alliance India, Asia $11,000
Mammal EN Fishing Cat Prionailurus vivverinus Arjun Thapa Small Mammals Conservation and Research Foundation Nepal, Asia $16,085
Reptile NE Turtles and Tortoises Order Testudines Tomas Diagne African Chelonian Insitute Senegal, Africa $4,500
Reptile CR Siamese crocodile Crocodylus siamensis Herdhanu Jayanto Yayasan Kolaborasi Inklusi Konservasi (KONKLUSI) Indonesia, Asia $5,000
Plant DD Disa satyriopsis Disa satyriopsis Blessings Chingagwe Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi Malawi, Africa $5,000
Plant CR Malabar Rotala Rotala malabarica Shijith Puthan Purayil Mahatma Gandhi Government Arts College, Mahe India, Asia $5,000
Fish CR Alfred’s Liquorice gourami Parosphromenus alfredi Wentian Shi Parosphromenus Project Malaysia, Asia $4,800
Amphibian CR Bogota Harlequin Toad Atelopus subornatus Lina Valencia Global Wildlife Organization Colombia, South America $8,400
Bird CR Newell's Shearwater Puffinus newelli Holly Robertson American Bird Conservancy United States, North America $9,000
Bird CR Red-fronted Macaw Ara rubrogenys Tjalle Boorsma Asociacion Armonia Bolivia, South America $13,000
Bird CR Blue-billed Curassow Crax alberti Andrés Montes Rojas Fundación Proyecto Primates Colombia, South America $7,550
Bird CR Fuertes Parrot /Indigo-winged parrot Hapalopsittaca fuertesi Maria Clara Díaz González ´Fundación Vida Silvestre Colombia, South America $4,750
Mammal EN Baird's tapir, Central American tapir Tapirus bairdii Jorge Rojas PhD Student at the University of Georgia, Costa Rica Wildlife Foundation (CRWF) & Nai Conservation Costa Rica, North America $5,000
Mammal CR Delacour’s langur Trachypithecus delacouri An Le Thanh Center for Nature Conservation and Development (CCD) Vietnam, Asia $7,000
Mammal VU African golden cat Caracal aurata Badru Mugerwa Embaka-Saving African golden cat Uganda, Africa $15,070
Mammal VU Oncilla Leopardus tigrinus oncilla José Daniel Ramírez-Fernández Costa Rica Wildlife Foundation Costa Rica, North America $6,500
Fish CR Wayanad Mahseer Neolissochilus wynaadensis Anoop V K Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies India, Asia $23,900
Plant EN Lebombo Cycad Encephalartos lebomboensis Angelina Martins Eduardo Mondlane University, Faculty of Science, Department of Biological Science Mozambique, Africa $13,000
Plant CR kamakahala Labordia helleri Seana Walsh National Tropical Botanical Garden United States, North America $10,000
Plant EN Câu điệp Evrard Bulbophyllum evrardii Huong Bui Van Department of Nature Conservation, Vietnam National Museum of Nature Vietnam, Asia $5,000
Invertebrate NE marisco de rio Leila blainvilleana Cristhian Clavijo BIVAAS South American Freshwater mussels, National Museum of Natural History and Vida Silvestre NGO Uruguay, South America $8,000
Invertebrate NE Tarantula Haplocosmia nepalensis Kiran Thapa Magar N/A Nepal, Asia $5,000
Invertebrate EN Potamonautes platycentron Potamonautes platycentron John Kochey Kipyegon National Museums of Kenya Kenya, Africa $5,000
Fish EN T-Bar cichlid Amatitlania sajica Arturo Angulo Asociación Costarricense de Acuarismo para la Conservación de los Ecosistemas Dulceacuícolas Costa Rica, North America $4,500
Amphibian EN Mount Bamboutos Wolterstorff Toad Wolterstorffina mirei Arnaud Marius Tchassem Fokoua Laboratory of Zoology, University of Yaoundé I / CWCS (Cameroon Wildlife Conservation Society) Cameroon, Africa $8,000
Reptile CR Okoloma worm lizard Cynisca gansi Lotanna Micah Nneji Kunming Institute of Zoology, China Nigeria, Africa $9,000
Reptile CR Lygodactylus mirabilis Lygodactylus mirabilis Radosoa A. Andrianaivoarivelo Aro Velona Madagascar, Africa $8,000
Reptile CR Geometric Tortoise Psammobates geometricus Ross Kiester Southern Africa Tortoise Conservation Trust South Africa, Africa $6,500
Reptile CR Forsten's Tortoise Indotestudo forstenii Asnim Alyoihana Lanusi PROGRES (Prakarsa Konservasi Ekologi Regional Sulawesi) Indonesia, Asia $4,500
Reptile EN Big-headed turtle Platysternon megacephalum Kalyar Platt Turtle Survival Alliance Myanmar (Burma), Asia $9,000
Bird CR Giant Ibis Thaumatibis gigantea Samnang Eang Birdlife International Cambodia Programme Cambodia, Asia $17,700
Bird EN Yellow-throated apalis Apalis flavigularis Tiwonge Mzumara-Gawa Malawi University of Science and Technology Malawi, Africa $6,000
Mammal EN Golden-rumped Elephant Shrew (Sengi) Rhynchocyon chrysopygus Markéta Antonínová Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Kenya, Africa $12,500
Mammal EN Eld’s Deer Rucervus eldii siamensis James Lyon Rising Phoenix Co. Ltd. Cambodia, Asia $11,500
Mammal EN African Wild Dog Lycaon pictus Marc Collins Space for Giants Kenya, Africa $12,500
Mammal CR Brown-headed spider monkey Ateles fusciceps fusciceps Felipe Alfonso-Cortes Proyecto Washu / Fundación Naturaleza y Arte Ecuador, South America $12,500
Mammal EN Golden Lion Tamarin (GLT) Leontopithecus rosalia Luis Paulo Ferraz Associação Mico-Leão-Dourado Brazil, South America $12,500
Mammal CR Myanmar snub-nosed monkey Rhinopithecus strykeri Sharon Bamberg Fauna & Flora International (FFI) Myanmar (Burma), Asia $12,500
Mammal VU Common leopard Panthera pardus Kinley Tenzin Department of Forest and Park Service Bhutan, Asia $7,000
Fungi NE Brown-capped mushroom Russula cellulata Basile Gbètondji Hounwanou Laboratory of appleid ecology Benin, Africa $6,500
Fungi NE Fisherman's Dream Usnea angulata Jessica Allen Eastern Washington University United States, North America $17,000
Plant EN Angona Dioscorea orangeana Rajaonah Mamy Tiana Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre Madagascar, Africa $17,000
Plant CR Ellen’s Paphiopedilum Paphiopedilum helenae Van Dinh Center for Nature Conservation and Development (CCD) Vietnam, Asia $9,500
Plant CR Wailua River yellow loosestrife Lysimachia iniki Ben Nyberg National Tropical Botanical Garden United States, North America $8,500
Invertebrate EX Rocky Mountain locust Melanoplus spretus Jeffrey Lockwood University of Wyoming, Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies France, Europe $15,000
Invertebrate EN Freshwater pearl mussel Margaritifera margaritifera Javier Balset Observatorio de Malacología y Ecología Fluvial (OMF) Spain, Europe $5,000
Invertebrate NE Firefly beetles, Glow-worms, lightning bugs, kelip-kelip Lampyridae Choong Hay Wong Malaysian Nature Society Malaysia, Asia $7,500
Fish CR Syr-Darya Shovelnose Sturgeon Pseudoscaphirhynchus fedtschenkoi Bernard Kuhajda Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute Uzbekistan, Asia $7,970
Fish CR Ningu Labeo victorianus Mark Olokotum National Fisheries Resources Research Institute (NaFIRRI) Uganda, Africa $11,130
Fish CR Baringo lampeye Aplocheilichthys sp. 'Lake Baringo' Pedro Bragança South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity Kenya, Africa $7,250
Reptile CR Utila Spiny-tailed Iguana Ctenosaura bakeri Ana Daniela Sansur Pavon Kanahau Utila Research and Conservation Facility Honduras, North America $9,000
Reptile EN Asian Giant Softshell turtle Pelochelys cantorii Ayushi Jain Wildlife Institute of India India, Asia $5,000
Reptile VU Indian Softshell Turtle Nilssonia gangetica Shailendra Singh Turtle Survival Alliance-India India, Asia $12,000
Reptile CR Nubian flapshell turtle Cyclanorbis elegans Luca Luiselli N/A South Sudan, Africa $12,000
Invertebrate CR Guamuhayan Stick-Insect Malacomorpha guamuhayaense Sheyla Lazara Yong Quintero Sociedad Cubana de Zoología Cuba, North America $3,800
Invertebrate NE Neorthacris acuticeps acuticeps Neorthacris acuticeps acuticeps DHANEESH BHASKAR IUCN SSC Grasshopper Specialist Group India, Asia $5,000
Fish DD Guatopote del balsas Poeciliopsis balsas Lluvia Ramírez Navarro Conservation Research Group, Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas, Universidad Autónoma del Estado Mexico, North America $4,600
Amphibian CR Patagonia Frog Atelognathus patagonicus Rodrigo Calvo La Plata Natural Science Museum Argentina, South America $4,800
Amphibian EX Northern Gastric-brooding Frog Rheobatrachus vitellinus Conrad Hoskin James Cook University Australia, Oceania $4,900
Reptile CR Darevsky’s Viper Vipera darevskii Konrad Mebert Institute of Development, Ecology, Conservation and Cooperation Turkey, Asia $4,965
Reptile CR Gharial Gavialis gangeticus Mina Shrestha N/A Nepal, Asia $3,000
Bird EN Sakalava rail Zapornia olivieri Sama Zefania University of Toliara,Institut Supérieur de Technologie de Menabe (ISTM), enceinte du Port Morondav Madagascar, Africa $8,946
Bird CR Príncipe thrush Turdus xanthorhynchus Estrela Matilde Fundação Príncipe Sao Tome and Principe, Africa $7,782
Bird CR White-rumped vulture Gyps bengalensis Sunny Joshi Himalayan Institute for Sustainable Environment and Reseach Society India, Asia $5,000
Bird EN Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis Igor Karyakin RRRCN Russia, Asia $5,000
Bird CR Blue-bearded Helmetcrest Oxypogon cyanolaemus Sara Lara Fundacion ProAves Colombia, South America $6,000
Bird CR Townsend’s Shearwater Puffinus auricularis auricularis Federico Mendez Sánchez Grupo de Ecología y Conservación de Islas, A.C. Mexico, North America $5,000
Bird CR Royal Cinclodes Cinclodes aricomae Rodrigo W. Soria-Auza Asociación Armonia Bolivia, South America $9,400
Mammal CR Riverine Rabbit Bunolagus monticularis Bonnie Schumann Endangered Wildlife Trust South Africa, Africa $12,000
Mammal DD Silver-backed chevrotain Tragulus versicolor Andrew Tilker Global Wildlife Conservation Vietnam, Asia $8,000
Mammal EN African wild dog Lycaon pictus Whitney Hansen University of California Santa Cruz, Environmental Studies Department Botswana, Africa $8,800
Mammal CR Kolar leaf-nosed bat Hipposideros hypophyllus Rajesh Puttaswamaiah Bat Conservation India Trust India, Asia $12,500
Mammal VU Gursky's Spectral Tarsier Tarsius spectrumgurskyae Sharon Gursky Texas A&M University Indonesia, Asia $8,000
Mammal CR Preuss’s red colobus monkey Piliocolobus preussi Epérance Atemkeng Mamekui Society for Conservation Biology – Cameroon Chapter Cameroon, Africa $6,200
Mammal EN Buffy-tufted-ear marmoset Callithrix aurita Rogério Cunha Universidade Federal de Alfenas Brazil, South America $9,800
Mammal NT Marbled cat Pardofelis marmorata Giridhar Malla Wildlife Institute Of India India, Asia $4,986
Mammal VU Fishing Cat Prionailurus viverrinus Sagar Dahal Small Mammals Conservation and Research Foundation Nepal, Asia $7,962
TypeIUCN     
Herpetology Equipment (Colombia) © Proaves

Project Management

Mubadala Investment Company, the Abu Dhabi-based sovereign investor, entered a three-year partnership with the MBZ Fund to support conservation initiatives around the world. Through the partnership, Mubadala Investment Company will provide the MBZ Fund with US $1.5 million annually to be directed towards supporting endangered flora and fauna in Africa, Asia and South America.

Mubadala Investment Company Grants

Large Projects, Sponsored by Mubadala

Mubadala Investment Company, the Abu Dhabi-based sovereign investor, has entered a three-year partnership with the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund to support conservation initiatives around the world.

Through the partnership, Mubadala Investment Company will provide the MBZ Fund with US $1.5 million annually to be directed towards supporting endangered flora and fauna in Africa, Asia and South America; particularly in countries where Mubadala Investment Company has portfolio companies including Colombia, Guinea, Indonesia, Thailand – representing some of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.

These grants, while larger in scope and longer in duration than the traditional MBZ Fund small grants programme, complement the Fund’s already significant support for species conservation globally, and the Fund’s policy of supporting hands on, field conservation activities. These “Mubadala Grants” are implemented by our trusted and experienced local conservation partners, supported by Mubadala and its assets, and managed by the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund. All the partners in this effort are dedicated to conserving the species that form the building blocks of life on earth and by applying their passions for conservation will help turn the tides against the extinction crisis.

View website
Measuring Snow Leopard paw ©Sebastian Kennerknecht

Philanthropy

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

Philanthropy

Panthera

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, too.

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
Plant In Ankaratra (Madagascar) © Radosoa A. Andrianaivoarivelo

Financials

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 2020 Audited Financial Statement

Financials

Endowment

The Endowment

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.

Atelognathus patagonicus (Argentina) ©Rodrigo Calvo.

The endowment’s capital has risen from $27.5m (initial allocation) to $31.1m at the end of 2020, while $16.7m have been distributed in grants over the same period, achieving all three of the endowment’s goals.

Distributions for 2020 were actually $1.5m but the last $0.1m were taken from the endowment bank account in January 2021, after the reporting period; and at the beginning of the reporting period, there were $0.5m of withdrawals linked to 2019.

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 +5.2% (MW), in line with the target.

During the year 2020, the Microfinance bucket continued to be reduced when liquidity was needed for Private Equity capital calls. The Private Debt bucket and the Hedge Fund bucket were progressively merged, to increase the investment universe. In September, after the first three full years of the Goldman Sachs mandate, the Equities bucket managed by the bank was completely revamped, in order to optimize performance.

At the end of the year, the endowment was managed by Goldman Sachs, Banque Pictet, Oaktree Capital (Private Debt) and PGIM (Real Estate).

Field work (Cuba) ©Tomás Michel Rodríguez Cabrera

Markets and performance in 2020

2020 proved to be a tumultuous year for global financial markets, with the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent policy responses leading to major swings in asset prices. By late February, as it became clear that the pandemic was not going to be contained within China, markets saw some of the biggest sell-offs since the global financial crisis, as lockdowns led to shuttered businesses and people were forced to adapt to a new way of living. But although the pandemic and ensuing global recession could have proved a disaster for markets, the unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus that was unleashed helped to support a strong recovery in asset prices.

In this context, the MBZ Fund portfolio delivered a net performance of +10.9% (MW). The “traditional” portfolio (equities and fixed income) managed by Goldman Sachs delivered +11.5% while the “alternative” portfolio (private equity, private debt, hedge funds and real estate) mostly managed by Banque Pictet delivered +12.0%.

It is worth noting that the Private Equity bucket (managed by Banque Pictet) achieved a record +36.2% net annualized IRR from inception to end 2020.

Horstrissea dolinicola ©Dr. Christini Fournaraki

Financials

Distribution of funds

Distribution of proceeds

In 2020 the Fund supported 145 projects selected from 1,792 grant applications. There were fewer grants in 2020 compared to years past because the final round of grant giving in 2020 was dedicated to our ‘Covid-19 Relief Grants’ which helped conservation organizations pay for core costs (salary, utilities, rent, etc.) during the pandemic.

Distribution of funds by species type
Amphibian
$118,900
Bird
$218,813
Fish
$166,900
Fungi
$42,600
Invertebrate
$170,095
Mammal
$436,485
Plant
$201,500
Reptile
$177,690
Distribution of funds by continent
Africa
$421,828
Antarctica
$0
Asia
$409,145
Europe
$95,350
North America
$210,900
Oceania
$29,800
South America
$365,960
Distribution of Funds by IUCN Red List
Not Evaluated
$90,245
Data Deficient
$32,600
Least Concern
$0
Near Threatened
$4,986
Vulnerable
$151,222
Endangered
$797,182
Critically Endangered
$436,848
Extinct in the Wild
$0
Extinct
$19,900

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.

www.speciesconservation.org

Mailing address:

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

team documenting (Indonesia) ©Hening Triandika Rachman
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