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      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.



Click here for 2014 C.A.N. grant application.  Deadline is October 17, 2014.



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

Christophe Boesch

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.


Ainare Idoiaga

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.


Franck Mackoundi

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.


Prava Pandey

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.


Greg Rasmussen

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

Erika Bauer

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.


Sagar Paudel

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.


Arnaud Desbiez

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.


Anthony Stancampiano

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.

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