Together, We CAN Make a Difference!
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.
2014 Small Grant Awardees
Principle Investigator: Barry Downer
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: $2500
Principle Investigator: Christophe Boesche
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: $2500
Principle Investigator: Cameron Siler
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: $2500
Principle Investigator: Michelle Barrows
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
Principle Investigator: Roger Sweeny
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
2013 CAN Grant Program Awardees
Project title: “Proactive Conservation: Developing a Reintroduction Program for Texas-Horned Lizards While Fostering Stewardship with Private Land Owners”
Principle Investigator: Diane Barber
Amount awarded: $2,500
The Texas-horned lizard, Phrynosoma cornutum, is protected as a threatened species in the state of Texas and is the official state reptile. Perhaps more than any other native animal, the “horny toad” is identified with and beloved by Texans. The species is held in high esteem and garners vast support for its conservation and reintroduction into areas where it once lived. Like other species of horned lizards, this animal is declining throughout a majority of its range for a multitude of reasons, which include habitat alteration and invasive species. The purpose of this partner-based study is to evaluate the feasibility and scientific methods used to reintroduce captive hatched horned lizards into formerly occupied habitats of north Texas. Methodology developed from this multi-year study will be applied to statewide recovery efforts for P. cornutum and can also be used as a standard for future recovery efforts for the other twelve species of horned lizards that reside in the United States and Mexico.
Project Title: “Warriors Protecting Grevy’s Zebra in Laisamis, Northern Kenya”
Principle Investigator: Belinda Mackey
Amount awarded: $2,500
The endangered Grevy’s zebra is found mainly in northern Kenya, with one of its most important populations located in the Laisamis region where the Grevy’s Zebra Trust (GZT) recently launched its new Grevy’s Zebra Warrior Program. A network of warriors is now monitoring Grevy’s zebras, raising community conservation awareness and providing protection to the region’s fragile biodiversity.
The importance of engaging the warriors in conservation cannot be overstated given their ability to influence the direction of attitudes of the next generation towards wildlife. Securing the support of the warriors has not only strengthened conservation efforts in the short term, but we believe it will also lead to positive conservation attitudes in the long term as the warriors move from their role as community messengers and protectors to that of community leaders and decision makers. By focusing on the youth as well as engaging the entire community through its awareness work, GZT aims to build a sustainable future for wildlife and its ecosystem in the Laisamis region.
Project title: Securing African Wild Dogs in Malawi - Building a Long-Term Conservation Strategy”
Principle Investigator: Emma Stone
Amount awarded: $2,500
The African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) is one of Africa’s most endangered carnivores. Wild dogs have undergone severe declines in the last 50 years and viable populations are believed to be limited to only 6 of 34 previous range countries. The causes of decline are habitat fragmentation, human-wildlife conflict and competition with other predators. The conservation of remaining wild dog populations is outlined as the highest priority for the conservation of the species. The wild dog conservation action plan recommends the important first step in devising strategies for wild dog conservation is to survey their distribution and status. Despite regular sightings in Kasungu National Park (KNP) and its potential importance as a viable population, to date no comprehensive studies have been conducted on wild dogs in Malawi. Research is urgently required to assess the status of the population and determine the site-specific ecological factors limiting wild dogs to facilitate the conservation of this species in Malawi. We will conduct a crucial first assessment of the status and distribution of the wild dog population in Malawi. We will establish the only long-term wild dog ecological study, threat assessment and conservation program in Malawi, build capacity conservation and raise awareness of the importance of wild dogs and their habitats.
Project title: “Empowering Indigenous Communities to Protect a Declining Ecosystem: Shielding from extinction the pigmy three-toed sloth (Bradypus pygmaeus) of Escudo de Veraguas Island, Panama”
Principle Investigator: James Voirin
Amount awarded: $655
The pygmy three-toed sloth (Bradypus pigmaeus) is a critically endangered species. It lives only in Escudo de Veraguas, a small island located off the mainland of Panama´s Caribbean Coast. In 2011, a preliminary survey was conducted and showed a population estimate of only 82 individuals within the mangroves. This early data stresses the need for further research and immediate conservation action to ensure the long-term persistence of the species. In recent times, 150 Gnobe Bugle indigenous fishermen have made Escudo island their temporary home, cutting and burning 25 percent of the mangrove forest to make charcoal. The proposed project seeks to continue research to close the gaps of information regarding the pygmy sloth population, habitat use, and behavioral ecology needed to establish a monitoring and management program. The project will also raise awareness among Gnobe Bugle fishermen and households about the sloths´ ecology and conservation, providing them with environmentally sound cooking technology. It will also collaborate with local stakeholders to enforce protection regulations.
Project title: “Pathogen Prevalence in a Highly Vulnerable, Low-Density Population of Lions (Panthera leo) in Northern Tuli Reserve, Botswana”
Principle investigator: Michael Yabsley
Amount awarded: $2,295
African lion (Panthera leo) numbers have declined drastically during the last two decades. This reduction in lion numbers is also occurring in Botswana, despite having large allocated areas of habitat. Increased persecution as a result of livestock predation conflicts, loss of habitat leading to fragmented populations and an increase in pathogenic agents are the main reasons for current day reductions. This study will address lion declines by investigating pathogen prevalence in a highly vulnerable, low-density lion population in Botswana. The objectives are to determine exposure to various infectious agents, identify tick vectors and conduct thorough physical exams on approximately 50 percent of this population. Blood, serum and ticks will be collected and tested for a suite of potential pathogens. These data can be used to identify management strategies to decrease the impact of pathogens on the Tuli lion population. Furthermore, data on pathogen exposure will provide a baseline for future health assessments of this population, allow for a larger examination of disease threats to the free-ranging population of lions within this region and assist in the conservation of this species.
2012 CAN Grant Program Awardees
Project title: Club P.A.N. - environmental education for children in Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea / West Africa to protect wild chimpanzees and their habitat the tropical rainforest
Amount awarded: $2500
Description: Wild chimpanzee populations are declining dramatically. They are threatened by deforestation, bush-meat hunting, disease and pet trade. The western chimpanzee has disappeared from three countries and is on the verge of extirpation in others. Because conservation education is seen as a priority long-term action for the conservation of chimpanzees the WCF started an environmental education program in 2007. The WCF nature clubs (Club P.A.N.) are a long-term approach oriented towards the next generation, each school year around 1,000 children are participating from two West African countries and evaluations have shown a significant increase in knowledge and a change in attitudes. Each school year we have two trainings for all local teachers that participate, we have 10 nature clubs and pre- and post-evaluations for all children and we end with a large presentation of the children to their village. Micro-projects in Club P.A.N. schools have their first success stories. Because these projects still need support and each school year new children join Club P.A.N., the WCF would like to continue these successful nature clubs for another school year (2012/2013) in Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire.
Project title: Establishing conservation education using printed media at the Limbe Wildlife Centre, Cameroon and the surrounding community
Amount awarded: $1910
Description: In the past thirty years, wild primate populations have declined by more than 50% in some areas due to the practices of illegal hunting and logging. Limbe Wildlife Centre, a rescue and rehabilitation project situated in the Southwest Region of Cameroon, cares for primates and other animals orphaned by the bushmeat trade. Since its start, the sanctuary has become home to critically endangered species, such as a Cross River Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli) and Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), and endangered species, such as the drill monkey (Mandrillus leucophaeus) and the Elliot’s chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes ellioti).
With over 50,000 Cameroonian visitors a year, in addition to an education program that reaches 1,100 local students, Limbe Wildlife Centre is in a unique position to educate local people about their own precious natural heritage and how they can take steps to ensure its conservation. Currently, the sanctuary is lacking educational display boards, which are desperately needed to further engage the public in our conservation effort. The planned displays, which will be present throughout the sanctuary, will include information on group composition, ranging patterns, reproduction, distribution, habitat use, social organization, and threats to survival for each species currently cared for. In addition, displays focusing on the illegal animal trade, including the bushmeat and pet trades, will be created in order to illustrate the disastrous effects on endemic species and human health. These boards will help to make a visit to the sanctuary an educational experience that changes both attitudes and behaviors.
Project title: Congolese hunters and children safeguarding wild gorillas from the bushmeat trade
Amount awarded: $2500
Description: The critically endangered western lowland gorilla is heavily hunted for bushmeat trade in the Kouilou region, located in the southwestern part of the Republic of Congo. Studies conducted by ESI Congo over the past four years have shown that the vast majority of gorilla meat sold in Pointe Noire (Congo’s second largest city) originates directly from the Kakamoeka district. In an effort to save the remaining gorillas, ESI Congo has established conservation priorities that include intensive conservation awareness, bushmeat trade monitoring, gorilla surveys, training of local hunters on gorilla surveys and monitoring, and implementation of a local hunting cooperative to develop livelihood alternatives. The specific project presented here concerns the education and awareness portion of our program. Based on our findings, conservation education and awareness are urgently needed at Loaka and surrounding villages where gorilla hunting occurs. Educational activities will target local hunters, school 29July2012 children and teachers.
The aim of these educational activities is to inform local communities of the serious risks associated with hunting gorillas and other protected species (particularly the legal, environmental and healthrelated risks). We will distribute educational materials and host activities that are both innovative and engaging to achieve this end. These resources are intended to shape the behavior of all actors involved in the gorilla bushmeat trade. It is expected that this will help reduce the demand for gorilla meat, and ultimately curb gorilla hunting. By teaching local communities the important role that healthy gorilla populations play in the preservation of natural heritage sites, we will encourage them to explore more sustainable livelihood options.
Project title: Status, Habitat Preference and Distribution of Red Panda Ailurus fulgens in Ilam District, East Nepal
Amount awarded: $2390
Description: The Red Panda, Ailurus fulgens is a small arboreal mammal, endemic to the temperate forests of the Himalayas, ranging from Nepal in the west to China in the east. It is classified as endangered species on the IUCN Red List and included in CITES Appendix I. Red Panda is primarily distributed in deciduous forests, which are increasingly being settled, degraded and converted into other landforms. The population of Red Panda is declining throughout its range. To date, no scientific study has been carried out to find out its status, distribution and conservation in Nepal. This research in Nepal aims to find out the current population, distribution of Red Panda in Ilam district by using camera traps, sign surveys and scat collection, questionnaire surveys. The projects aims to find out its latest status and distribution in Ilam and outcome will be helpful in conserving the species.
Project title: Iganyana (“Painted Dog”) Children’s Bush Camp
Amount awarded: $2500
Description: Painted Dog Conservation’s Iganyana Bush Camp provides a free of charge, residential, total immersion, conservation education experience for all grade six students from the primary schools of the indigenous communities that border the Hwange National Park buffer zone in Zimbabwe. During four exciting and deeply enriching days, over 600 students a year rotate through a series of experiential learning activities led by specially trained local guides. They learn about the plight of painted dogs at PDC's Rehabilitation Facility and visit Hwange National Park during a game drive, observing the role each species plays in its natural community. Upon seeing local wildlife (many for the first time in their lives) and gaining an understanding of the ecology of the wild African savannah, Bush Camp graduates leave the programme with an emotional attachment to caring for the beauty and complexity of their local natural environment.
2011 CAN Grant Program Awardees
Project title: The effects of institutional transfer and breeding introductions on the fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus)
Amount awarded: $2500
Project description: This study aims at monitoring the potential stress involved in the transfer of individuals between institutions, and eventual effects on breeding success. Very little is known about the fishing cats’ sensitivity to environmental change and transfers between institutions and breeding introductions can increase stress and drastically impact reproductive success. Prolonged stress is known to cause acyclicity in females, increase infant mortality, and lower testosterone levels in males. Non-invasive fecal hormone analysis will be used to monitor cortisol on all individuals intended for pairing and progesterone and estrogen in females. Keeper staff will record behavioral observations and management methods to compare the hormone data. A keeper-rated temperament assessment will also be used to indicate differing temperaments between fishing cats, with the goal of pinpointing certain temperaments that may be more adaptive to transport or more successful breeders.
Project title: Vulture safe zone: In situ conservation of critically endangered vulture species in Salyan, Nepal
Amount awarded: $2500
Project description: Populations of Asian vulture species have declined catastrophically in India, Pakistan, and Nepal since the early 1990s due to the use of a veterinary drug diclofenac in local cattle populations. The drug is toxic to birds and the vultures became exposed by eating the flesh of deceased cattle that had been treated with this drug. The government of Nepal has developed a Vulture Conservation Action Plan to protect the critically endangered vulture species. This project will work to support this plan by declaring vulture safe zones where the use of diclofenac is prohibited, vultures and nests are continuously monitored and the locals are educated and made aware of the issue.
Project title: Studying a living fossil: Conservation and ecology of the giant armadillo in the Brazilian Pantanal
Amount awarded: $2500
Project description: The giant armadillo (Pridontes maximus) is the largest of the armadillo species and can weight up to 60 kg. Although the giant armadillos range over much of South America almost nothing is known about them. Due to its cryptic behavior and low population densities, this animal is rarely seen and is threatened with extinction. This project aims to establish the first long-term ecological study of giant armadillos in the Brazilian Pantanal wetland. The main goal of the project is to investigate the ecology and biology of the species and understand its function in the ecosystem using radio transmitters, camera traps, burrow surveys, resource monitoring, resource mapping and interviews.
Project title: A biodiversity inventory of an urban wilderness: Oklahoma City University’s Gamble-Buchanan outdoor lab. Phase III: Mammal and macroinvertebrate surveys”
Amount awarded: $2500
Project description: The focus of this multi-year proposal is to measure species diversity at a 27 acre urban wilderness in southwest Oklahoma City known as the Gamble-Buchanan outdoor lab which is under the direction of the Oklahoma City University Department of Biology. Very little is known of the biodiversity of this recently designated education and research facility that is surrounded by industrial and housing development. By measuring species richness and implementing management practices to preserve and enhance biodiversity, future generations are provided and opportunity to enjoy a richer quality of life. With the funds from previous OKC Zoo CAN small grants , phase I has been completed and phase II is near completion. This continued support will allow for phase III to begin in late winter and spring of 2012.