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Annual Report 2022

Back to business

In an era marked by conservation challenges, the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund exemplifies how targeted support can ignite substantial change. Our small grants empower conservationists to innovate, engage communities, and protect biodiversity. These efforts are not just financial aids but catalysts for resilience against habitat loss, climate change, and more, demonstrating the profound impact of strategic, grassroots action.


In an era marked by conservation challenges, the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund exemplifies how targeted support can ignite substantial change. Our small grants empower conservationists to innovate, engage communities, and protect biodiversity. These efforts are not just financial aids but catalysts for resilience against habitat loss, climate change, and more, demonstrating the profound impact of strategic, grassroots action.

As an added endorsement of our commitment to integrating climate and nature conservation, I was honored to be appointed as the UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28. This role underscores the intrinsic link between climate action and the preservation of biodiversity, highlighting the mutual benefits of addressing these global challenges in tandem.

I am deeply honored to carry the responsibility of supporting the COP28 UAE Presidency in this capacity. The environment, with its climate and biodiversity, is a cornerstone of the UAE’s culture and identity, recognized as essential for well-being. In my dual roles as UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28 and IUCN President, I am committed to pushing beyond conventional approaches to prioritize nature-based solutions that can harmonize climate and biodiversity objectives.

The interconnectedness of climate change and biodiversity is undeniable. With the support of over 10,000 conservationists, biologists, ecologists, field workers, and volunteers on the ground, the MBZ Fund is uniquely positioned to lead conservation efforts. Our approach demonstrates that through focused, strategic actions, even small-scale funding can yield significant contributions to the global conservation effort.


Razan Al Mubarak
Managing Director

About Us

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

Why species conservation?

Animals, fungi, and plants are essential components to sustain a prosperous ecosystem. Conserving a well-balanced ecosystem maintains the health of the environment ensuring humans have access to clean air and water, fertile land, and plants with medicinal properties. When a species becomes endangered, it disrupts the ecosystem and can have devastating, often far-reaching consequences for the well-being of all inhabitants on our beautiful planet.

In a recent UN report, it was highlighted that around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history.

Kingfisher © WCS

The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened.

The picture is less clear for insect species, but available evidence supports a tentative estimate of 10% being threatened. At least 680 vertebrate species had been driven to extinction since the 16th century and more than 9% of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture had become extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000 more breeds still threatened.

It’s time to rethink our relationship with nature.  Not for us, but for our children and their children.  Let’s leave the world a better place.

Hawksbill turtle

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, across all seven continents, offering targeted support to enthusiastic conservationists and researchers in the field.

These intrepid individuals and organisations are the first line of defense 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.

Vultures to track animal poisoning in Africa
The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP) including the Limpopo National Park (Mozambique), Gonarezhou National Park (Zimbabwe) and Kruger National Park (KNP) represent a strategically important, vulture-rich landscape.  The 35 square kilometer wilderness represents one of the most significant protected areas on the African continent. Wildlife poisoning is a massive threat and unfortunately, vultures are impacted more than any other species.  An estimated 450 vultures of four threatened species have been poisoned in the KNP since January 2019. The aim of this ambitious project was to eliminate animal poisoning by using the vultures as first responders.  By tracking the vultures, they will also be able to monitor their movements and unique foraging and feeding signatures as well as share alerts with rangers about large mammal deaths possibly through poisoning. The MBZ Fund grant made the project possible and massively successful as they managed to deploy 66 GPS-tracked vultures and obtained 97% coverage of the targeted area.  They developed an effective, automated system to push culture feeding and immobility alerts, enabling them to ground truth over 350 feeding event alerts of which 89% were positive carcass hits.  These alerts are also shared with wildlife monitoring...

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Small Grants

Small grants supported 2022

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
Reptile CR Yangtze giant softshell turtle Rafetus swinhoei Long Nguyen Wildlife Conservation Society Vietnam, Asia $25,000
Mammal CR Addax Addax nasomaculatus Torsten Bohm Noé Niger, Africa $24,868
Plant NE Croton borbensis Croton borbensis Amanda da Paixão Noronha Pereira N/A Brazil, South America $3,050
Invertebrate NE leaf-cutting ant Atta robusta Jarbas Queiroz Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro Brazil, South America $4,926
Invertebrate VU Madeiran Green Bush-Cricket Psalmatophanes barretoi Howon Rhee IUCN SSC Grasshopper Speciallist Group Portugal, Europe $8,000
Plant EN Madeira Shrub Cornflower Cheirolophus massonianus Ben Nyberg National Tropical Botanical Garden Portugal, Europe $9,000
Plant NE Mascarene amaranth Aerva congesta Cacey Cottrill Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust Mauritius, Africa $12,000
Plant DD Rhododendron Rhododendron pogonophyllum Kezang Tobgay National Biodiversity Centre, Serbithang Bhutan, Asia $6,000
Plant CR Ginger Zingiber engganoense Angga Yudaputra Research Center for Plant Conservation, Botanic Gardens and Forestry Indonesia, Asia $7,000
Plant EN Himalayan cypripedium Cypripedium himalaicum Naphel Naphel Paro Forest Division, Paro Bhutan Bhutan, Asia $15,000
Invertebrate NE Macrosteles pygmy Macrosteles pygmaeus Oleg Borodin Daugavpils University Lithuania, Europe $5,000
Invertebrate EN Ryukyu rabbit tick Haemaphysalis pentalagi Mackenzie Kwak Hokkaido University Japan, Asia $10,000
Reptile EN Mt Kenya Bush Viper Atheris desaixi Atubwa Howard National Museums of Kenya Kenya, Africa $8,000
Reptile CR Home's Hingeback tortoise Kinixys homeana Luca M. Luiselli N/A Liberia, Africa $10,000
Reptile CR Leith's softshell turtle Nilssonia leithii Sneha Dharwadkar Dakshin Foundation, Bengaluru, India India, Asia $14,000
Fish EN Rio Concepcion topminnow Poeciliopsis jackschultzi Mariana Mateos Texas A&M University Mexico, North America $8,000
Fish EN Philippine Medaka Oryzias luzonensis Faith Tadeo Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University Philippines, Asia $5,000
Amphibian CR Bancet Tompotika Occidozyga tompotika Efendi Sabinhaliduna Celebica Conservation Action Indonesia, Asia $6,076
Amphibian CR Harlequin toad Atelopus quimbaya Luis Santiago Caicedo-Martínez Natural History Laboratory, Integrative Zoological Biodiversity Discovery Colombia, South America $6,800
Reptile CR Dark Sitana Sitana fusca SANTOSH BHATTARAI Nepal Conservation and Research Center Nepal, Asia $5,000
Bird CR White-winged Flufftail Sarothrura ayresi Girma Mengesha Wildlife Conservation Team Charity Organization Ethiopia, Africa $5,000
Bird CR Black-naped pheasant-pigeon Otidiphaps Insularis Jason Gregg N/A Papua New Guinea, Oceania $11,700
Bird NE New Caledonian Storm Petrel Fregetta lineata Chris Gaskin Northern New Zealand Seabird Trust New Caledonia, Oceania $15,000
Bird CR Cuban Kite Chondrohierax uncinatus wilsonii Geovanys Rodríguez Cobas N/A Cuba, North America $8,000
Mammal DD Sumatran striped rabbit Nesolagus netscheri Nindi Aseny Merangin University (Universitas Merangin) Indonesia, Asia $7,000
Mammal CR European hamster Cricetus cricetus Mikhail Rusin Kyiv Zoo Ukraine, Europe $6,100
Mammal EN Red panda Ailurus fulgens Supriyo Dalui Zoological Survey of India India, Asia $7,000
Mammal EN Golden-rumped Elephant Shrew (Sengi) Rhynchocyon chrysopygus Marketa Antoninova Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Kenya, Africa $13,000
Mammal EN Golden langur Trachypithecus geei Jihosuo Biswas Primate Research Centre NE India/Conservation Himalayas India, Asia $6,000
Mammal EN Phayre's leaf monkey Trachypithecus phayrei Tanvir Ahmed N/A Bangladesh, Asia $10,000
Mammal CR White-thighed Colobus Colobus vellerosus Christopher Dankwah A Rocha Ghana Ghana, Africa $13,000
Mammal NT Margay Leopardus wiedii Xinia Villarreal Friends of Felids Association Costa Rica, North America $5,000
Mammal NT Marbled Cat Pardofelis marmorata Giridhar Malla Clouded Leopard Working Group India, Asia $7,500
Mammal NT Rusty-spotted cat Prionailurus rubiginosus K Shiva Kumar Rusty Spotted Cat Working Group (RSCWG) India, Asia $5,000
Mammal NT Rusty-spotted cat Prionailurus rubiginosus Vidyaman Thapa Rusty Spotted Cat Working Group (RSCWG) Nepal, Asia $5,000
Mammal VU African golden cat Caracal aurata Imran Ejotre Muni University South Sudan, Africa $7,500
Mammal VU African golden cat Caracal aurata Serge Ely Dibakou Centre Interdisciplinaire de Recherches Médicales de Franceville (CIRMF, GABON) Gabon, Africa $5,000
Mammal VU African golden cat Caracal aurata Julius Mutale Embaka Uganda, Africa $5,000
Mammal VU African golden cat Caracal aurata Emmanuel Akampurira Embaka-Saving the African Golden Cat Uganda, Africa $7,500
Plant EN Empogona maputensis Empogona maputensis Celia Martins Department of Biological Sciences, Eduardo Mondlane University Mozambique, Africa $15,000
Invertebrate NE Marisco de rio Leila blainvilleana Cristhian Clavijo Vida Silvestre Uruguay Uruguay, South America $7,000
Invertebrate CR Black abalone Haliotis cracherodii Fabiola Lafarga CICESE: Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education Mexico, North America $16,000
Invertebrate EN Matano Leopard Crab Parathelphusa pantherina Funty Septiyawati Polapa Marine Science Department, Muhammadiyah University of Palopo Indonesia, Asia $5,000
Amphibian CR Leora´s stream salamander Ambystoma leorae Felipe Osuna Institute of ecology AC Mexico, North America $15,000
Reptile CR Huu Lien Leopard Gecko Goniurosaurus huuliensis Nenh Sung Center for Biodiversity & Environment Research, Tay Bac University, Group 2, Quyet Tam Ward, Son La Vietnam, Asia $11,000
Reptile CR Red-crowned Roofed Turtle Batagur kachuga Shailendra Singh Turtle Survival Alliance India India, Asia $15,000
Bird EN Yellow Cardinal Gubernatrix cristata Candelaria Neyra Aves Argentinas Argentina, South America $8,550
Bird CR Fatu Hiva monarch Pomarea whitneyi MARÍA IGUAL BELTRÁN Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie French Polynesia, Oceania $14,000
Mammal EN Hildegarde's tomb bat Taphozous hildegardeae Evarastus Obura Angaza Vijiji Kenya, Africa $12,000
Mammal EN Giant otter Pteronura brasiliensis Els van Lavieren Suriname Reizen en Geven Suriname, South America $14,450
Mammal EN Giant pangolin Smutsia gigantea Alain Delon MOUAFO TAKOUNE University of Dschang Cameroon, Africa $9,000
Mammal CR Tana River red colobus Piliocolobus rufomitratus Rose Abae Wildlife Research and Training Institute Kenya, Africa $12,000
Mammal EN Djam-djam monkey Chlorocebus djamdjamensis ssp. djamdjamensis Addisu Mekonnen University of Calgary, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, 2500 University Drive Calgary, AB Ethiopia, Africa $24,000
Plant CR Baccharis orientalis Baccharis orientalis Mayumi Vega Polanco El Colegio de la Frontera Sur Cuba, North America $3,200
Plant NE Button plant Conophytum antonii Andrew Taylor Endangered Wildlife Trust South Africa, Africa $19,096
Plant CR Sigotiet Disperis egregia Fanuel Kawaka N/A Kenya, Africa $7,510
Invertebrate EN Holothuria scabra Holothuria scabra Muhammad Farhan Touna Sea cucumber Conservation Group Indonesia, Asia $7,782
Fish DD Ansorge lutefish Citharidium ansorgii SEGUN OLAYINKA OLADIPO KWARA STATE UNIVERSITY, NIGERIA Nigeria, Africa $12,045
Fish CR Sharks, rays, and chimaeras Chondrichthyan Rima Jabado International Union for Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission Shark Specialist Group Malaysia, Asia $24,705
Amphibian EN Shimba Hills reed Frog Hyperolius rubrovermiculatus Beryl Bwong National Musuems of Kenya Kenya, Africa $10,855
Amphibian EN Guerreran Robber Frog Craugastor guerreroensis Ricardo Palacios Aguilar Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México/Totlok A.C. (NGO) Mexico, North America $8,200
Amphibian CR Taita Warty Frog Callulina dawida Thomas Odeyo NATURE KENYA Kenya, Africa $5,000
Reptile CR Home's hinge-back tortoise Kinixys Homeana Chrystelle DAKPOGAN Organisation pour le Développement Durable et la Biodiversité Benin, Africa $14,420
Bird CR Galapagos Petrel Pterodroma phaeopygia Justine Hanson American Bird Conservancy Ecuador, South America $15,100
Bird LC Omani Owl Strix butleri Sami Ullah Majeed Fujairah Environment Authority United Arab Emirates, Asia $5,000
Mammal NE Muñoa’s Pampas cat Leopardus munoai Marina Ochoa Favarini Geoffroy’s Cat Working Group (GCWG) Brazil, South America $5,000
Mammal VU African golden cat Caracal aurata Kouadio Juslin Hervé KOIGNY Mimea Internationale Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Africa $5,000
Mammal VU Clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa Mitra Pandey Clouded Leopard Working Group Nepal, Asia $5,000
Bird EN Ashy Storm-Petrel Hydrobates homochroa Alejandra Fabila Blanco Grupo de Ecología y Conservación de Islas, A.C. Mexico, North America $14,550
Bird CR Rück`s flycatcher Cyornis ruckii Zulqarnain Assiddiqi Endemic Indonesia Indonesia, Asia $7,000
Bird CR White-winged Flufftail Sarothrura ayresi Kyle Lloyd BirdLife South Africa South Africa, Africa $14,550
Bird CR Bengal florican Houbaropsis bengalensis Chhotelal Chowdhary Biodiversity Conservation Center Nepal Nepal, Asia $7,000
Fish EW Golden Skiffia Skiffia francesae Omar Domínguez Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de hidalgo Mexico, North America $20,000
Reptile CR Anegada Rock Iguana Cyclura pinguis Kelly Bradley Fort Worth Zoo British Virgin Islands, North America $25,000
Fungi CR Stinking milk-cap Lactarius foetens Armel Boris OLOU Laboratory of Applied Ecology (LEA) Benin, Africa $10,000
Fungi NE Pinatra Cyttaria berteroi Daniela Torres Fundación Fungi Chile, South America $13,500
Plant CR Pseudophoenix lediniana Pseudophoenix lediniana William Cinea Cayes Botanical Garden (CBG) Haiti, North America $10,000
Plant CR Cola porphyrantha Cola porphyrantha Henry Ndangalasi University of Dar es Salaam Tanzania, Africa $7,000
Plant CR frailejón ramificado Espeletia ramosa Jesus Mavarez Laboratoire d'Ecologie Alpine Colombia, South America $17,000
Invertebrate NE Idle crayfish Austropotamobius bihariensis Andrei Acs Centre for Protected Areas and Sustainable Development Romania, Europe $6,500
Invertebrate EN Gomphids Cottarelli’s Longlegs Notogomphus cottarellii Chemeda Abedeta GARBABA Jimma University Ethiopia, Africa $5,500
Invertebrate EN harvestman Jimeneziella decui Aylin Alegre Barroso Institute of Ecology and Systematics Cuba, North America $5,500
Invertebrate CR Archineura maxima Archineura maxima Toan Phan Quoc Duy Tan University Vietnam, Asia $7,000
Fish DD Blind catfish Horaglanis krishnai Arya Sidharthan Zoo Outreach Organization India, Asia $8,091
Fish EN Maloti minnow Pseudobarbus quathlambae Patrick Skhumbuzo Kubheka Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife South Africa, Africa $15,000
Fish CR Porbeagle Lamna nasus Simo Ribaj SEEP (Social Education for Environment Protection) Albania, Europe $8,900
Reptile NE Angel's five-toed skink Lacertaspis lepesmei Arnaud Marius Tchassem Fokoua Laboratory of Zoology, University of Yaoundé I Cameroon, Africa $7,000
Reptile CR Nubian Flapshell Turtle Cyclanorbis elegans Luca M. Luiselli N/A Burkina Faso, Africa $16,500
Mammal CR Tana River red colobus Piliocolobus rufomitratus Stanislaus Kivai Institute of Primate Research-National Museums of Kenya Kenya, Africa $12,500
Mammal CR Niger Delta Red Colobus Monkey Piliocolobus epieni Rachel Ikemeh SW/Niger Delta Forest Project Nigeria, Africa $12,500
Amphibian DD Heart-tongued frog Phyllodytes gyrinaethes Anyelet Valencia Aguilar Laboratorio de Bioligia Integrativa - UFAL Brazil, South America $10,000
Reptile CR Darevsky's Viper Vipera darevskii Konrad Mebert Institute of Development, Ecology, Conservation and Cooperation Georgia, Asia $4,970
Reptile CR Mount Inago Pygmy Chameleon Rhampholeon bruessoworum Matthias De Beenhouwer 4Forests Mozambique, Africa $4,950
Reptile CR Indochinese Box Turtle Cuora galbinifrons Linh Luong Center for Nature Conservation and Development Vietnam, Asia $7,500
Mammal EN Golden-bellied mangabey Cercocebus chrysogaster Edward McLester Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior Congo, Democratic Republic of (Congo-Kinshasa), Africa $11,600
Mammal EN Bioko Drill monkey Mandrillus leucophaeus poensis Jana Lopez Alvarez The Drill Project Equatorial Guinea, Africa $11,300
Mammal EN Andean cat Leopardus jacobita Cindy Hurtado Pampas Cat Working Group Peru, South America $14,500
Mammal LC Jungle Cat Felis chaus Chandima Fernando N/A Sri Lanka, Asia $4,465
Plant EN Zornia subsessilis Zornia subsessilis Lais Zeferino São Paulo State University Brazil, South America $5,000
Invertebrate NE Fuji cave scaffold-web spider Speleoticus uenoi Francesco Ballarin Tokyo Metropolitan University Japan, Asia $5,000
Mammal DD Khartoum gerbil Gerbillus stigmonyx Ibrahim Hashim Sudanese Wildlife Society Sudan, Africa $5,000
Mammal EN White-bellied pangolin Phataginus tricuspis Gladys Kamasanyu Help African Animals Uganda, Africa $5,000
Mammal NT Rusty-spotted cat Prionailurus rubiginosus Ramjan Chaudhary Rusty Spotted Cat Working Group (RSCWG) Nepal, Asia $5,000
Mammal NT Asiatic golden cat Catopuma temminckii Gyajo Lama Bhote Clouded Leopard Working Group Nepal, Asia $5,000
Mammal LC Caracal Caracal caracal Sami Ullah Majeed Wadi Wurayah National Park - Fujairah Environment Authority United Arab Emirates, Asia $5,000
Mammal NT Rusty-spotted cat Prionailurus rubiginosus Vikram Tiwari Rusty Spotted Cat Working Group India, Asia $5,000
Mammal VU African golden cat Caracal aurata Eduardo Lutondo Fundação Kissama Angola, Africa $5,000
Mammal VU Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus Rebecca Klein Cheetah Conservation Botswana Botswana, Africa $5,000
Bornean Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi borneensis) male with corneal ulcer in his right eye in lowland rainforest, Tawau Hills Park, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

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 2022

Large Projects in Colombia 2022

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

Situated in north-western South America on the Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena and Tropical Andes Biodiversity Hotspots, Colombia is one of the world’s 17 megadiverse countries and home to an astonishing 10% of all biodiversity on earth.

Large Projects in Guinea 2022

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

The Guinean forests of West Africa are considered one of the world’s 25 biodiversity hotspots and with many watercourses in the sub region, also considered the "Water Tower of West Africa".  It has one of the most dynamic coastal areas in the sub-region and has a highly productive marine ecosystem.

Large Projects in Indonesia 2022

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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.

Large Projects in Thailand 2022

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

Thailand ranks the 20th among countries globally in terms of the rate of biodiversity, but as many as 470 species around the country are facing the threat of extinction in the wild.   Almost 20% of its land area and five percent of its total marine coastal area are protected.

Lion (Zimbabwe) © 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.



Since its founding in 2006, Panthera’s wild cat conservation projects across all continents, have had the unique opportunity to experience the abundant richness of the geographical landscapes that wild cats inhabit as well as the culture and heritage of the Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities that live alongside these iconic wild cat species.

Decades of wild cat biology studies at Panthera have definitively identified wild cats, especially big cats, as indicators of the health of our planets’ biodiversity. Their work has also shown that there is significant overlap of the wild cat territories that they study, with traditionally held territories of indigenous peoples who are intergenerational caretakers of these global climate-crucial landscapes.

In partnership with Panthera, the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund develop and manage a customized small-grants mechanism, designed to engage with Indigenous organizations to protect biocultural diversity in critical landscapes, and participate actively in the protection of wild cat conservation.

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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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:

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

spot-billed Pelican (Thailand) © Bird Conservation Society of Thailand

The endowment’s capital has risen from $27.5m (initial allocation) to $29.5m at the end of 2022, while $19.8m have been distributed in grants over the same period[1], achieving all three of the endowment’s goals.

The Investment Policy of the Fund was revised in Q1-2023, three years after the previous revision. The desired investment objective is a long-term rate of return on assets of 4.5% net, measured in USD and using a total return approach (income as well as capital gains). By long-term, we mean beyond a full business cycle, therefore approximately 8-10 years. When defining the appropriate performance goal, the Board has taken into account a risk tolerance of a 15% loss over a one-year period. The risk measure used is an Expected Shortfall with a 95% confidence interval. Put simply, it means that if we envisage twenty possible scenarios, the worst one should not lead to more than an average 15% loss.

Since inception, the annualised net performance of the endowment has been +4.80% (MW), slightly above the current target. Over the last three years, it has been +5.03% (MW), above the current 4.5% target and slightly above the previous 5% one.

At the end of the year, the endowment was managed through discretionary mandates by Goldman Sachs and Banque Pictet, complemented by investments in PGIM, Blackstone and Aurum Millenium funds.

Since July 2015, Perennium SA is the independent financial advisor of the Fund. Perennium assists with establishing and reviewing investment policy, objectives and guidelines; defining strategic asset allocations; selecting investment options and managers; reviewing such options and managers over time; measuring and evaluating investment performance; and producing consolidated financial reports.

Additional distributions to the benefit of species conservation were made outside of the endowment (directly from donations), to the tune of $4.2m, bringing the total to $24m.

Trachypithecus Obscurus Eating Bamboo Leaves (Thailand) © WCS

Markets and performance in 2022

After a series of three excellent years for financial markets and for the portfolio (which registered double-digit performances), the year 2022 was exceptionally difficult.  The biggest driver of this was much stronger-than-expected inflation, which hit multi-decade highs and led central banks to embark on their most aggressive tightening cycle in a generation. In the meantime, investors also had to grapple with geopolitical turmoil, since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led to massive spikes in energy and food prices that particularly hit emerging market economies.

Financial markets fell across the board, and this included both equities (worst annual performance for the S&P500 index since the GFC in 2008) as well as bonds (worst annual performance for the Bloomberg US Treasury index since data begins in 1973). The exceptional pattern of 2022 was this conjunction of the fall in equities and in bonds, the worst in combined magnitude since 1928.

Against this backdrop, the MBZF portfolio proved very resilient (owing to the changes implemented since 2016), limiting its losses to -6.1%. By ways of comparison, the average balanced USD portfolio registered -14.4% in 2022. A three-year comparison is even more striking: from 2020 to 2022, the MBZF portfolio is at +5.0% annualized vs +0.3% for the average balanced USD portfolio.

The “traditional” portfolio (equities and fixed income) managed by Goldman Sachs delivered ‑12.9% while the part of the “alternative” portfolio (private equity, hedge funds and real estate) managed by Banque Pictet and the MBFZ directly delivered +1.2%.

Bird Surveys © Allan Taman

The Future: 2022 and Beyond

The Investment Policy Statement has been revised during the course of 2022 and will be revised again with the usual three-year frequency.

We have experienced a historical change of regime, after 35-40 years of falling interest rates and tamed inflation (the “Great Moderation”). The massive fiscal stimulus and near‑zero interest rates seen during the pandemic have given way to tighter monetary policies and sharply higher bond yields.

While in 2023 the U.S. Federal Reserve and other major central banks have made progress against inflation and policy rates appear close to their peaks, rate cuts may not happen soon. Heading into 2024, inflation risks are skewed to the upside. Energy prices are a concern amid supply‑side pressures.

Monetary policy effects typically are felt with a lag, so global economic growth remains at risk. The eurozone already is in recession, and China’s post‑pandemic recovery has been disappointing. However, the U.S. economic outlook is more encouraging, as corporations and consumers both have proven less sensitive to higher rates compared with other major global economies. Fiscal stimulus has added further support.

We are not, however, changing our strategic asset allocation purely on the basis of market forecasts, and the investment philosophy of the Fund remains rooted in its three core tenets:

  • The understanding that investing is about dealing with uncertainty. Trying to predict short-term market movements is a futile exercise. On the contrary, one must prepare for all eventualities.
  • The focus on portfolio resilience, using components having the right level of true diversification (i.e., different behaviours). Portfolio construction is the key element of the investing value chain.
  • The choice of a (very) long-term view. A long investment horizon also allows the use of a wider range of financial assets and a better connection with the real economy.


Distribution of funds

Distribution of proceeds

In 2022 the Fund distributed a total of $1.5 million which supported 179 projects selected from 1,438 grant applications.  With restrictions lifted post the Covid pandemic, the Fund were able to support more applicants than in 2021.  Another major achievement ensured that the Fund managed to extend their reach by covering an additional 94 species and sub species.  The average fund size awarded was $8,913.92 compared to $9,056 from funds 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 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

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