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Annual Report 2021

Pandemic Persistence

As Covid-19 gripped the world in 2021, the effects of the pandemic on conservation activities were made clear. Many grant recipients were unable to enter the field. Some conservation organizations continued to lose money because there were no ecotourists. It would take until the end of the year to restart conservation activities and even then conservation would not be the same.


Covid-19 held conservation in its grip for a second year. International and local travel was difficult. In many places access to the field was completely restricted. Prevention measures became more prevalent. The risk of exposure to the virus was still high and vaccines were not universal. People, conservationists included, fell ill and sometimes in alarming numbers. While some of our grant recipients persisted in their field activities, others focused to research, fund raising, grant writing, and professional development.

At the beginning of the pandemic, a survey of the MBZ Fund’s small grant recipients revealed the difficulties conservationists faced. Conservation philanthropy required a different approach.

In 2020 and 2021, the MBZ Fund temporarily changed its course by helping small conservation organizations pay for core costs like rent, utilities, and salaries. In this report we highlight how the MBZ Fund Covid-19 Relief Grants provided respite from the punishing loss of revenue experienced by some of our cherished conservation organizations.

While the effects of the pandemic remain difficult, I continue to be impressed with the resilience of nature and the conservation organizations working so passionately to protect it. We now look forward to our small grants programme again providing financial support to direct species conservation action and stand ready with our many partners to continue playing an important role in helping conserve species worldwide.

Razan Al Mubarak
Managing Director

three Giraffes © Finote Gijsman

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 preserve 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 place in the laboratory or in the office as conservation planning and analysis. 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. As such, the MBZ Fund provides grants that get people back into the field where conservation action can make a difference.

Leopardus geoffroyi (Bolivia) © Flavia Tirelli

How did COVID-19 affect The Fund?

The effects of Covid-19 continued to be strongly felt globally in 2021 and most countries around the world had implemented measures to reduce its spread.

In April 2020, the MBZ Fund surveyed its grant recipients to understand the effects of the pandemic on conservationists. The survey found the pandemic had affected the ability of 83 percent of our grant recipients to conduct critical fieldwork. Many organizations reported a loss of revenue due to the shuttering of parks, zoos, and aquariums, as well as a decline in ecotourism.

As a relief measure, the MBZ Fund decided to temporarily switch its focus to supporting the core costs (rent, utilities, salaries) of conservation organizations. This change in focus would apply to two grant applications windows, including  applications received between 1 July 2020 and 31 October 2020, as well as those received between 1 November 2020 and 28 February 2021. After this date, the MBZ Fund would go back to prioritizing funding for direct species conservation action.

Locals interacting with Campbell´s Alligator Lizard (Guatemala) © Foundation for the Endangered Species of Guatemala

Hyperolius torrentis © Caleb Ofori-Boateng

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. These small grants are as much for the species as they are for the conservationists and organizations working so 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.

Supporting Armonia-Bolivia and Endangered Birds
In such unprecedented times, when businesses have been struggling to stay afloat and economies teetering on the edge as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, benevolence is a commodity in great demand but short in supply. This is especially true in the field of conservation, which tends to be overlooked. Asociación Armonía-Bolivia is one such organisation that has been severely affected by the pandemic and its knock on effects. Founded in 1993 with the aim of conserving Bolivia’s endangered birds and their habitats, Armonía (meaning “harmony”) is a leading bird research organization in Bolivia. It holds the largest database of bird observations in the country, has established protected areas for various bird species and also empowers local and indigenous people to participate in the conservation of Bolivian birds. As a result of the pandemic, however, Armonía lost revenue from tourism for three of its projects and experienced a severe surge in costs. As a result, the continued employment of administrative staff became a significant concern. Fortunately, the Fund’s Covid Relief Grants were able to help alleviate some of the concerns. The special grant was able to help cover the administrative costs of the...

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Small Grants

Small grants supported 2021

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
Invertebrate EX Campbell's Keeled Glass-snail Advena campbelli Isabel Hyman Australian Museum Research Institute Australia, Oceania $22,111
Bird CR White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus Gareth Tate Endangered Wildlife Trust South Africa, Africa $21,754
Plant CR Euphorbia tanaensis Euphorbia tanaensis Henry Komu Kenya Forestry Research Institute Kenya, Africa $5,000
Plant NE Kamiesberg Indigo Indigofera limosa Brian du Preez University of cape Town South Africa, Africa $5,000
Invertebrate NE Fireflies Lampyridae Pratistha Shrestha N/A Nepal, Asia $5,000
Fish DD Mahseer Tor tambra Ahmad Murysid N/A Indonesia, Asia $5,000
Amphibian CR Itatiaia Highland Frog Holoaden bradei Barbara Zaidan Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais Brazil, South America $5,000
Amphibian NE Bocaina Big-tooth Frog Phantasmarana bocainensis Carla Lopes Universidade Estadual Paulista Brazil, South America $5,000
Invertebrate CR Grasshopper Pyrgacris relictus Nicolas Zuel Ebony Forest Mauritius, Africa $4,955
Amphibian EN Goliath Frog Conraua goliath Samuel Hurley Bristol Zoological Society Equatorial Guinea, Africa $14,347
Reptile CR Godagedara’s Day Gecko Cnemaspis godagedarai Suranjan Karunarathna Nature Exploration & Education Team Sri Lanka, Asia $7,410
Reptile CR Black-eyed bent-toed gecko Cyrtodactylus nigriocularis Quyen Do Institute of of Ecology and Biological Resources, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology Vietnam, Asia $4,980
Reptile CR Asian Giant Tortoise Manouria emys phayrei Shahriar Caesar Rahman Turtle Survival Alliance Bangladesh, Asia $14,800
Bird EN Palkachupa Cotinga Phibalura boliviana Tjalle Boorsma Asociación Armonia Bolivia, South America $15,340
Bird CR Great Indian Bustard Ardeotis nigriceps Rakesh Kalva Wildlife Research & Conservation Society India, Asia $4,900
Mammal EN Russian desman Desmana moschata Alina Mishta I. I. Schmalhausen Institute of Zoology National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine Ukraine, Europe $7,162
Mammal CR Sunda Pangolin Manis javanica Tiffany Chen Rescue and Conservation of Species Center Vietnam, Asia $3,678
Mammal EN Lang's red colobus Piliocolobus langi Claude Mande Centre de Surveillance de la Biodiversité Congo, Democratic Republic of (Congo-Kinshasa), Africa $12,925
Mammal VU Marbled Cat Pardofelis marmorata Giridhar Malla N/A India, Asia $8,500
Mammal VU African golden cat Caracal aurata Emmanuel Akampurira EMBAKA Uganda, Africa $4,990
Fungi CR Stinking milk-cap Lactarius foetens Souand Peace Gloria Tahi The Laboratoire de Biomathématique et d’Estimations Forestières (LABEF) Benin, Africa $10,000
Plant CR Consolida samia Consolida samia Costas Thanos NKUA Seed Bank, National & Kapodistrian University of Athens Greece, Europe $10,000
Plant NE Croton kinondoensis Croton kinondoensis Veronicah Ngumbau National Museums of Kenya Kenya, Africa $10,000
Fish CR Toothcarp Aphanius almiriensis Ieremias Chousids University of Ioannina Greece, Europe $14,500
Fish CR Singidia tilapia Oreochromis esculentus Obedi Nsubuga HOPE FOR NATURE Uganda, Africa $9,000
Fish EN Whitespotted eagle ray Aetobatus narinari Thamíris Karlovic Oceanographic Institute of the University of São Paulo Brazil, South America $7,000
Amphibian CR Luchun Stream Toad Bufo luchunnicus Van Anh Pham Faculty of Environmental Sciences, University of Science, Vietnam National University, Hanoi Vietnam, Asia $12,000
Reptile CR Pancake Tortoise Malacochersus tornieri Dominic Maringa Lewa Wildlife Conservancy Kenya, Africa $9,000
Bird CR Jerdon's Courser Rhinoptilus bitorquatus Panchapakesan Jeganathan Nature Conservation Foundation India, Asia $14,100
Mammal CR Hill's Horseshoe Bat Rhinolophus hilli Aellen Mylea Bayless Bat Conservation International Rwanda, Africa $9,000
Mammal CR Rondo Dwarf Galago Galagoides rondoensis Robert Modest Sokoine University of Agriculture Tanzania, Africa $13,000
Mammal CR Northern muriqui Brachyteles hypoxanthus Fabiano Rodrigues de Melo Viçosa Federal University Brazil, South America $10,000
Mammal CR Black-faced Lion Tamarin Leontopithecus caissara Elenise Angelotti Bastos Sipinski Wildlife Research and Environmental Education Society (SPVS) Brazil, South America $10,000
Mammal DD East Sumatran Banded Langur Presbytis femoralis percura Rahmat Hidayat Wildlife Observer Community Indonesia, Asia $5,320
Mammal EN Flat-headed cat Prionailurus planiceps Rahmat Hidayat Wildlife Observer Community Indonesia, Asia $6,800
Mammal VU Clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa Kinley Tenzin Clouded Leopard Working Group (CLWG) Bhutan, Asia $6,400
Plant VU Faqou'a Iris Iris haynei Imad Al Atrash Palestine Wildlife Society Palestinian territories, Asia $14,000
Fungi EN Loyo Butyriboletus loyo Giuliana Furci The Fungi Foundation Chile, South America $15,000
Plant CR Jueirana-facão Dinizia jueirana-facao Alison Nazareno Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais Brazil, South America $5,500
Plant CR Mozambique false rose-apple Warneckea sessilicarpa Alice Massingue Eduardo Mondlane University, Faculty of Science, Department of Biological Sciences Mozambique, Africa $15,000
Plant EN Cordeauxia edulis Cordeauxia edulis Tahir Abdela Ethiopian biodiversity institute Ethiopia, Africa $5,000
Invertebrate NE Javan Jewel Rhinocypha heterostigma Diagal Wisnu Pamungkas Indonesia Dragonfly Society Indonesia, Asia $5,500
Invertebrate NE Batu Cave Trapdoor Spider Liphistius Batuensis Zarris Kem Malaysian Cave and Karst Conservancy (Treasurer) Malaysia, Asia $5,000
Fish CR Asprete Romanichthys valsanicola Alex Găvan Alex Găvan Foundation Romania, Europe $16,100
Fish CR Largetooth Sawfish Pristis Pristis Kerstin Forsberg Planeta Océano Peru, South America $13,000
Amphibian CR Steindachner's River Frog Phrynobatrachus steindachneri Ikechukwu Godwin Chinemerem N/A Nigeria, Africa $11,500
Amphibian EN Harlequin Mantella Frog Mantella cowanii Rodlis Raphali Andriantsimanarilafy Madagasikara Voakajy Madagascar, Africa $15,000
Reptile CR Home's hingeback tortoise Kinixys homeana Fabio Petrozzi N/A Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Africa $15,000
Reptile CR swinhoe's softshell turtle Rafetus swinhoei Charlotte Ducotterd Turtle Sanctuary Vietnam, Asia $14,000
Bird CR Red-fronted Macaw Ara rubrogenys Tjalle Boorsma Asociación Armonia Bolivia, South America $10,000
Fungi VU Orchard Tooth Sarcodontia crocea Arsen Gasparyan Armenian Society of Biologists NGO Armenia, Asia $4,968
Invertebrate CR Fan mussel PInna nobilis Adla Kahrić Center for marine and freshwater biology Sharklab ADRIA Bosnia and Herzegovina, Europe $5,000
Invertebrate NE polyesters bees Zikanapis zikani Renan Kobal de Oliveira Cardoso Bee Laboratory of the University of São Paulo Brazil, South America $2,249
Invertebrate NE Grey aposematic grasshopper Parapetasia femorata Jeanne Agrippine Yetchom Fondjo Zoology Research Unit, Laboratory of Biology of Animal Organisms, University of Douala, Cameroon Cameroon, Africa $5,100
Reptile CR Gharial Gavialis gangeticus Mina Shrestha N/A Nepal, Asia $4,900
Reptile CR Pancake tortoise Malacochersus tornieri Jacob Mueti Ngwava National Museums of Kenya Kenya, Africa $25,000
Bird CR Fatu Hiva Monarch Pomarea whitneyi Thomas Ghestemme Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie (SOP) French Polynesia, Oceania $20,200
Bird EN Black-capped Petrel Pterodroma hasitata Ernst Rupp Grupo Jaragua Dominican Republic, North America $5,000
Mammal CR Attenborough's long-beaked echidna Zaglossus attenboroughi M Khairul Ikhwan Yayasan Kolaborasi Inklusi Konservasi (KONKLUSI) Indonesia, Asia $5,000
Mammal EN Eastern Quoll Dasyurus viverrinus David Hamilton Tasmanian Land Conservancy Australia, Oceania $10,000
Mammal EN Golden langur Trachypithecus geei Dilip Chetry Aaranyak India, Asia $10,000
Mammal EN Sclater's monkey Cercopithecus sclateri Lynne Baker Institute for Development, Ecology, Conservation, and Cooperation Nigeria, Africa $12,000
Mammal CR Western Chimpanzee Pan troglodytes verus Itai Roffman Roots & Shoots Mali/Israel and the Max Stern Yezreel Valley College, Israel Mali, Africa $12,000
Mammal NT Marbled cat Pardofelis marmorata Ganga Ram Regmi Third Pole Conservancy Nepal, Asia $15,500
Mammal VU Oncilla Leopardus tigrinus oncilla José Daniel Ramírez-Fernández Costa Rica Wildlife Foundation Costa Rica, North America $12,000
Mammal LC Geoffroy's cat Leopardus geoffroyi Flávia Pereira Tirelli Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul Brazil, South America $5,000
Mammal VU African golden cat Caracal aurata Rodrigue Batumike Research Action for Conservation and Development (RACOD) Congo, Democratic Republic of (Congo-Kinshasa), Africa $4,845
Mammal VU Clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa Purna Bahadur Ale Clouded Leopard Working Group (CLWG) Nepal, Asia $5,000
Mammal VU Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus Günther Wirth Heritage Somaliland Somaliland, Africa $5,000
Plant CR Mar Menor asparagus Asparagus macrorrhizus Carmen María Martínez Saura ANSE (Asociación de Naturalistas del Sureste - Southeastern Naturalist Association) Spain, Europe $15,000
Plant CR Withania chevalieri Withania chevalieri Albert Taxonera Amoros Associação Projeto Biodiversidade Cape Verde, Africa $15,000
Plant CR Elim Conebush Leucadendron elimense Philippa Murray Grootbos Green Futures Foundation South Africa, Africa $15,000
Plant CR Montserrat orchid Epidendrum montserratense Sarita Francis Montserrat National Trust Montserrat, North America $15,000
Invertebrate NE Mulanje Tiger Moth Callioratis grandis Carl Bruessow Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT) Malawi, Africa $14,500
Fish EN Barrens Topminnow Fundulus julisia Bernard Kuhajda Tennessee Aquarium United States, North America $15,000
Fish CR Zebra Obliquidens Haplochromis latifasciatus Okalo Paul Teso Women Development Enterprise Ltd Uganda, Africa $13,000
Fish CR Grreat hammerhead Sphyrna mokarran Rachel Graham MarAlliance Belize, North America $15,250
Amphibian EN Goliath Frog Conraua goliath Geraud Canis Tasse Taboue Environment and Communities Care Front Cameroon, Africa $17,500
Bird CR Blue-billed Curassow Crax alberti Sara Lara Fundacion ProAves Colombia, South America $17,000
Mammal EN Takhi Equus przewalskii Dashpurev Tserendeleg Hustai National Park Trust Mongolia, Asia $13,000
Mammal EN Eld's deer Rucervus eldi thamin Khine Khine Swe Friends of Wildlife (FOW) Myanmar (Burma), Asia $10,000
Mammal EN Giant pangolin Smutsia gigantea Valery Binda Aghah Agriculture and Bio-conservation Organization for Youth Empowerment and Rural Development (ABOYERD) Cameroon, Africa $10,000
Fungi EN Gastroboletus valdivianus Gastroboletus valdivianus Daniela Torres Fundación Fungi Chile, South America $21,000
Plant CR Malabar Water Lily Crinum malabaricum Latha Devi Ravikumar Zoo Outreach Organization India, Asia $25,000
Invertebrate NE Neorthacris acuticeps acuticeps Neorthacris acuticeps acuticeps DHANEESH BHASKAR IUCN SSC Grasshopper Specialist Group India, Asia $15,000
Amphibian CR Togo slippery frog Conraua derooi Caleb Ofori-Boateng Herp Conservation Ghana (Herp-Ghana) Ghana, Africa $22,000
Reptile CR Utila Spiny-tailed Iguana Ctenosaura bakeri Tom Brown Kanahau Utila Research & Conservation Facility, Isla de Utila, Honduras Honduras, North America $16,460
Reptile CR Elongated Tortoise Indotestudo elongata Shyam Kumar Pun Nepal Biodiversity Research and Conservation Centre Nepal, Asia $15,000
Reptile EN Green Turtle Chelonia mydas Trokon Saykpa Sea Turtle Watch, Liberia Liberia, Africa $15,000
Mammal EN Red Colobus Monkey Piliocolobus tephrosceles Richard Busobozi Conservation to Coexist Uganda, Africa $15,310
Mammal CR Bornean orang-utan Pongo pygmeus morio Marc Ancrenaz HUTAN Malaysia, Asia $23,050
Mammal EN Bornean Bay Cat Catopuma badia Gabriella Fredriksson Yayasan Pro Natura Indonesia, Asia $15,000
Mammal VU Fishing Cat Prionailurus viverrinus Murthy Kantimahanti Eastern Ghats Wildlife Society India, Asia $5,000
Mammal VU Fishing Cat Prionailurus viverrinus Anya Ratnayaka Small Cat Advocacy and Research Sri Lanka, Asia $10,000
Mammal CR Brown-headed spider monkey Ateles fusciceps fusciceps Felipe Alfonso-Cortes Fundación Naturaleza y Arte / Proyecto Washu Ecuador, South America $15,000
Bird CR Horned Curassow Pauxi unicornis Bennett Hennessey Asociacion Armonia Bolivia, South America $15,000
Bar-tailed Godwit (Thailand) © Bird Conservation Society of Thailand

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 (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; 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 MBZ 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.

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Project Management

Large Project Stories 2021

Large Projects in Colombia 2021

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From forests to rivers: Finding some of Colombia's most endangered species

Colombia’s environment encompasses a rich complexity of ecological, climatic, biological and ecosystem components. The forested slopes of the Andes support incredible biodiversity and are important not only for the country’s natural heritage but also in preserving some of the world’s unique species.

Large Projects in Guinea 2021

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Mitigating threats to the African manatee, Atlantic humpback dolphin and marine turtles

The west African country of Guinea is characterised by sandy beaches, vast plains and lush mangrove forests rich in endemic and endangered species. It has one of the most dynamic coastal areas in the sub-region and has a highly productive marine ecosystem.

Large Projects in Thailand 2021

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From stream to shore: Conservation of riverine species and wintering shorebirds

The Southeast Asian country of Thailand is a key location for biodiversity given its range of climates, varied topography, and long coastlines. Almost 20% of its land area and five percent of its total marine coastal area are protected and critically important to species conservation.

Large Projects in Indonesia 2021

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From forest to coast: Conserving Indonesia's threatened felids and sea turtles

Indonesia spreads across almost 18,000 islands. Whilst these only represent one percent of the world’s land area, remarkably their rainforests are home to 10 percent of the world’s known plant species, 12 percent of all mammal species and 17 percent of all known bird species.

Lions at dusk (Namibia) © Paul Funston/Panthera


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



Founded in 2006, Panthera is devoted to the conservation of the world’s 40 species of wild cats and the vast ecosystems they inhabit. Our team of biologists, data scientists, law enforcement experts and wild cat advocates studies and protects the seven species of big cats: cheetahs, jaguars, leopards, lions, pumas, snow leopards and tigers. Panthera also creates targeted conservation strategies for the world’s most threatened and overlooked small cats.

Using the expertise of the world’s premier cat biologists, Panthera develops and implements global strategies for the seven species of big cats: cheetahs, leopards, jaguars, lions, pumas (also known as mountain lions or cougars), snow leopards and tigers. Panthera also studies and protects the world’s most threatened species of small cats through our Small Cats Program. 

Representing the most comprehensive effort of its kind, Panthera partners with local and international NGOs, scientific institutions, local communities and governments around the globe and citizens who want to help ensure a future for wild cats. Panthera and their partners have measurably stopped or reversed cat decline at sites around the globe.

Accomplishments include:

  • Building the Tigers Forever Protocol, which has helped tiger populations rebound in key sites across India and Nepal and is turning the tide against poachers in Southeast Asia.
  • Spearheading the Jaguar Corridor Initiative to protect critical jaguar habitat across 18 countries and keep jaguar populations connected (and genetically diverse) from northern Mexico to northern Argentina.
  • Advancing wildlife technology with our revolutionary PoacherCams that help to catch poachers in real-time.
  • Forging an extraordinary alliance between six Indigenous tribes and state and national government agencies to preserve pumas and bobcats in Washington State.
  • Formulating a comprehensive strategy to study and conserve the 33 species of small cats.

Our impact can also be measured by the growth of other local wildlife species, the economic opportunities and benefits our projects provide to local communities, the reduction of incidents of crime and wildlife part trafficking in and around protected areas and the number of people who join our movement. Protecting cats provides a host of ecosystem and community benefits, from the maintenance of key watersheds to the creation of ecosystem industry jobs.

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Sunset over the Wetland Complex (Paraguay) © Para La Tierra


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.



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.

parrot snake (Paraguay) © Para La Tierra

The endowment’s capital has risen from $27.5m (initial allocation) to $33.0m at the end of 2021, while $18.3m have been distributed in grants over the same period, achieving all three of the endowment’s goals. Distributions for 2021 were actually $1.5m but at the beginning of the reporting period, there were $0.1m of withdrawals linked to 2020.

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 +5.7% (MW), slightly above the target. Over the last five years, it has been +7.3% (MW), significantly above the target.

During the course of 2021, the last Private Debt investment was liquidated (Q1), and the same goes for Microfinance (Q4). The Investment Policy has passed the 3-year mark and the world has massively changed (Covid pandemic and its consequences for governments, corporations and households), a revision will take place in early 2022. At the end of the year, the endowment was managed by Goldman Sachs, Banque Pictet and PGIM (Real Estate).

Pseudothelphusa morelosis (Mexico) © Edgard D. Mason-Romo

Markets and performance in 2020

2021 was an eventful year in markets, dominated by a number of themes including higher-than-expected inflation and the persistence of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, unlike the previous 5 years when there was generally a uniform move higher or lower among financial assets, 2021 showed a very strong dispersion of returns, with roughly half the types of financial assets moving higher, whilst the other half lost ground. Among the major assets, the best performers of the year were Oil and Developed Markets Equities, with double-digit performances. At the other end of the spectrum, Sovereign Bonds and Emerging Markets assets ended up significantly in the red.

In this context, the MBZ Fund portfolio delivered a net performance of +11.4% (MW). The “traditional” portfolio (equities and fixed income) managed by Goldman Sachs delivered +6.4% while the “alternative” portfolio (private equity, private debt, hedge funds and real estate) mostly managed by Banque Pictet delivered a provisional +17.1%.

Bird Surveys © Allan Taman

The Future: 2022 and Beyond

As mentioned, the Investment Policy Statement of the Fund will be reviewed in early 2022. Among other points, the Private Equity weight will probably be increased, to cater for the strong increase of the endowment PE value, while the Fixed Income overall weights will probably be decreased.

We are experiencing what could prove to be a historical change of regime, after 35-40 years of falling interest rates and tamed inflation (the “Great Moderation”). In the short term, high prices for energy and food, persistent supply chain disruptions, sustained demand and rising wages could fuel persistent high core inflation in 2022. Looking further down the road, the energy transition phase may bring a protracted period of higher inflation, the energy bill rising with the combination of insufficient production capacity of renewable energies in the short run, subdued investments in fossil fuels and rising carbon prices. Gas prices are a case in point. But it goes beyond just energy commodities, with the importance of materials such as copper, lithium and nickel to the clean energy transition.

A Whistling Hero (Paraguay) © Para La Tierra


Distribution of funds

Distribution of proceeds

In 2021 the Fund supported 151 projects selected from 1,530 grant applications. There were fewer grants awarded in 2021 compared to years past because the first round of grant-giving in 2021 was dedicated to our Covid-19 Relief Grants which were designed to help conservation organizations pay for core costs (salary, utilities, rent, etc.). The average amount awarded to Covid-19 Relief Grants in 2021 was $14,367 compared to $9,056 on average for non-Convid-19 Relief Grants in the two subsequent rounds of grant-giving in 2021.

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

A male Mountain Nyala (Ethiopia). © Daniel Rosengren
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Principal Investigator (PI)