CAN Grant Program

Find the Explorer in You

Conservation Action Now Grant

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is proud to announce the OKC Zoo Conservation Action Now small grant program.  Grants are awarded each December and application materials will be available late summer or early fall.

2015 Small Grant Awardees

Project Title: “Captive Rearing of Critically Endangered Masked Bobwhite”

Project Summary: Masked bobwhite are a critically endangered species found only in southern Arizona, USA, and northern Sonora, Mexico. There have not been any documented reports of wild birds since 2010. Currently ~90% of the known world’s population is housed in a single building at the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona. The Masked Bobwhite Recovery Team is seeking additional facilities to house part of the remaining U.S. captive population, primarily as a hedge against a catastrophic event, but also to experiment with various breeding and rearing techniques that may produce birds that are better able to survive releases and re-establish extinct populations. The proposed modifications at the Sutton Center repurpose existing equipment and facilities, as well as leverage the experience of our personnel, therefore modest seed funding can have dramatic benefits for the species.

Amount awarded: $2,500

Project Title: “The Tonkolili Chimpanzee Project”

Project Summary: The Tonkolili Chimpanzee Project aims to create commensal co-existence between a heavily hunted chimpanzee population and human community in Central Sierra Leone. This is achieved through sustainable economic practices, education, and empowering the local community to take charge of conserving chimpanzees in a shared forest fragment. In mitigating human-chimpanzee conflicts, it is hoped that this project can serve as a model for the conservation of chimpanzees outside of protected areas.

Amount awarded: $2,500

Project Title: “Exploring Genetic Diversity and its Effects on Fitness Across Different Environments in the Endangered Grevy’s Zebra (Equus grevyi)”

Project Summary: Grevy’s zebra (Equus grevyi) are one of Africa’s most threatened large mammals. The last population strongholds for Grevy’s zebra are in central and northern Kenya. In the past 30-40 years, Grevy’s zebra have undergone one of the most dramatic range reductions of any African mammal and populations have declined by an estimated 85%, leaving as few as 2,500 individuals worldwide. Such dramatic reductions often result in a genetic bottleneck, leaving individuals and populations with limited genetic variability. Low levels of genetic diversity in wildlife have been linked to an overall reduction in fitness, including dramatically increased juvenile mortality, heightened disease susceptibility, and a decline in reproductive success. The goals of this project are to understand how genetic diversity and environmental threats combine to affect fitness in Grevy’s zebra and to identify specific threats that can be targeted for management.

Amount awarded: $2,500

Project Title: “Using the Chili-Grease Technology to Promote Elephant Conservation within Bia Conservation Area”

Project Summary: Between January 2015 and April 2015, about one hundred and fifty-five farmers had their cocoa plantations and other crops partly or wholly raided by elephants at the southern part of the Bia Conservation Area Park. This has resulted in backlashes from the local residents and killing of elephants in retaliation. The crop raiding activities of the elephants affect food security and the retaliatory killings by the local farmers also affect elephant numbers. This project is therefore being proposed to address the problem of crop raiding and enhance Community-Park collaboration. In specific, the project aims to train and support farmers and local residents around the Park in modern community-based problem-animal control methods with particular emphasis on the “Chili-Grease method”, application of chili paste to fencing around crops to deter elephants. The project will help conserve the remnant elephants in the Park by providing security to food and cash crops and prevent retaliatory killings.

Amount awarded: $2,500

2014 Small Grant Awardees

Project Title: “Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and Ranavirus Sp. - Current Status in Northeast Oklahoma's Amphibian Populations”

Project Summary: Northeast Oklahoma is a hotspot and it is the goal of this study to make efforts toward understanding the prevalence of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and Ranavirus within wetland habitat using multiple amphibian species as indicators of disease presence. It is also the goal of the study to gather environmental data regarding both B. dendrobatidis and Ranavirus including presence in the environment, presence in individual species, densities of affected species and other data as it relates to these species. This project will allow the primary researchers to gain a better understanding of the effects of B. dendrobatidis and Ranavirus in the environment. The study sites are home to up to 27 different species of amphibians that could possibly be affected by the presence of either pathogen. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will benefit by receiving all data collected so that they can better understand any environmental concerns that may be present as it relates to the species tested.

Amount awarded: $2,500

Project Title: “Support to ecoguard patrols in the Proposed Grebo National Park (PGNP), Liberia”

Project Summary: Liberia is one of the last strongholds of the West African chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus), with the last national population study showing between 5,000-8,000 individuals (Tweh et al., 2014). Proposed Grebo National Park (PGNP) in southeast Liberia holds 341 chimpanzees (WCF, 2013), a critical population, though their survival remains threatened by high hunting pressure, levels of which have increased by 50% in just one year (WCF, 2013). The current Ebola outbreak in Liberia has led the country to a momentary standstill, leaving protected areas, including PGNP, unmanaged and thus unprotected. Education and law enforcement efforts will therefore be of immediate need once conservation activities can resume. WCF proposes to support the Government of Liberia through a Community Ecoguard program (CEP), bringing together Forest Rangers of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and trained community members to implement a patrolling scheme within PGNP. The patrols will help combat current anthropogenic threats by identifying new areas of threat within the forest and revisiting threatened areas identified during previous patrols.

These efforts will help to maintain PGNP, a pivotal forest in the Taï-Grebo-Sapo Forest Complex, the last remaining stronghold of the Upper Guinean Forest Ecosystem. PGNP holds a vital population of endangered West African chimpanzees but is also home to pygmy hippos, red colobus, African forest elephants and several threatened and endangered species of duikers; all of which will have increased protection under the ecoguard patrols. Learning patrolling methods and data analysis will also increase the management capacity of our partners, the FDA (Forestry Development Authority), giving them skills to successfully protect the forests under their control. Local hunters are also selected as members of the ecoguard teams, changing their livelihood and stopping them from hunting

Amount awarded: $2,500

Project Title: “Season variation in Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and Ranavirus detection in Amphibians in Central Oklahoma”

Project Summary: The emergence of infectious diseases in amphibians has been hypothesized as one of the leading causes of global declines in amphibian populations. Chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis or Bd) and Ranavirus have been well documented in North America and have been directly linked to localized extirpations. Due to its unique ecological diversity, Oklahoma is home to 31 species of amphibians, all of which are at risk. However, the presence of chytrid fungus has been tested at a handful of sites only across the state, and no sites have ever been screened for the presence of ranaviruses. There is an acute need for the development of a long-term monitoring program within the state, particularly in central Oklahoma where the highest human population is centered. Furthermore, it is critical that we work immediately to understand seasonal variations in disease presence and load across the state to strategically develop appropriate conservation measures. We propose to conduct a year-long, multi-season approach to test for both categories of infectious diseases through nondestructive sampling in two central Oklahoma locations: Lexington Wildlife Management Area in Cleveland Co. and near the grounds of the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma Co. Sampling will occur two times per season, at a total of three sites within each sampling area. The results of the survey will provide the first assessment of seasonal variation in disease prevalence and load of infectious amphibian diseases in the United States. Furthermore, we expect the study’s findings to dramatically improve our understanding of conservation risk levels for native species of amphibians in the state.

Amount awarded: $2,500

Project Title: “Disease survey of wild cranes in South Africa (as part of pre-release risk assessment for the Wattled Crane Recovery Programme, WCRP)”

Project Summary: The Wattled Crane, Bugeranus carunculatus is critically endangered in South Africa. In 2000, Population and Habitat Viability Analysis identified the need for a captive breeding and release programme and the Wattled Crane Recovery Programme (WCRP) was established to address the decline of this charismatic bird. Its objectives are: To maintain a captive breeding flock to serve as a genetic reservoir in the case of catastrophic extinction of birds in the wild and to increase the wild population through the release of captive reared fledglings into existing wild flocks. We are now at the stage of planning releases and there is a need for a disease risk assessment as part of this process, prior to release of captive reared fledglings into the wild in KwaZulu Natal. We therefore intend to carry out a disease survey of wild wattled cranes and sympatric crowned and blue cranes from 2014 to 2015. Fledgling wild cranes will be examined when they are caught up by EWT fieldworkers for routine ringing, which takes place annually under permit from the provincial wildlife authority, EKZNW. Under manual restraint, blood samples will be taken and tests will be carried out for various avian viral, bacterial and parasitic diseases.

Amount awarded: $1,000

Project Title: ”Nutritional Analysis of Natural Fruit items Consumed by Gray's Monitor Lizard (Varanus olivaceous)”
Project Summary: The Gray’s Monitor Lizard Varanus olivaceus is endemic to the Philippine Islands and is listed as Vulnerable under IUCN Red list criteria. This species is threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, through conversion of land to agricultural use and logging operations. It is also threatened by hunting for food by local people and collection for the pet trade. This species is arboreal and has been recorded from both primary and secondary tropical moist forests, often with rocky outcrops of cliffs. While the diet of juvenile animals contains a significant amount of animal protein in the form of snails and crabs, as they mature they change to a largely frugivorous diet, eating fruits of various trees including Pandanus, Canarium & Micrococos species, which is atypical for species from the Varanus genus of Asian monitor lizards. Currently, only a small number of Varanus olivaceus are kept in zoos and according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Program designation, the population is unsustainable. However, their Vulnerable status (IUCN 2009), unique biology, and obvious ability to serve as a flagship species for high priority ecosystems, demonstrate their high conservation value. Additionally, if captive husbandry requirements can be refined, more zoos could focus efforts toward managing this species in captivity and supporting efforts to preserve the species in the wild.

This project will focus on collection of fruit samples from the three main trees, Pandanus, Canarium & Micrococos, that are known to comprise a high proportion of the natural diet for Varanus olivaceus and achieve proximate nutritional analysis of these wild fruit items in order to provide baseline data that can contribute to our ability to more successfully formulate a captive diet for this species in North American zoos.

Amount awarded: $1,880

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