Species Conservation Catalyst Fund
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) mission is to work with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The International Affairs Program delivers on this mission through its financial assistance programs by supporting strategic projects that deliver measurable conservation results for priority species and their habitats around the world. Wildlife trafficking is estimated to be a multibillion-dollar business involving the unlawful harvest and trade of animals and plants (including timber). It has broad security implications, with corruption and sophisticated transnational crime syndicates at the center of some poaching and trafficking. Wildlife trafficking removes hundreds of thousands of animals and plants from wild populations each year and further increases the extinction risk for threatened and endangered species, which are often the target of wildlife crime because of their rarity and increased economic value. Species Conservation Catalyst Fund The Service’s Combating Wildlife Trafficking Program’s Species Conservation Catalyst Fund (SCCF) is a new initiative that aims to reduce wildlife trafficking within complex social-ecological systems by supporting recipients to (1) provide a more empirical understanding of the contexts in which species are trafficked, and/or (2) develop, implement, and evaluate activities that reduce the threat of trafficking to species populations. The SCCF is designed to support capacity building among project partners to sustain conservation impact by attracting additional funding, attention, and other resources for the species. The first species supported through the SCCF are (1) saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica and Saiga borealis) in Central Asia and Mongolia, and (2) cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) in the Horn of Africa. This new fund is envisioned as a ‘conservation accelerator’ that will enable project teams to launch or grow projects, support opportunities for grantees to build skills relevant to their work, and develop networks of researchers and practitioners. Projects supported through the SCCF will help build a body of evidence to guide future conservation and counter-trafficking efforts. Funding levels and timelines will vary for each species based on conservation need, funding availability, and the receipt of suitable proposals, but in general for each species, approximately $2-4 million is expected to be available and proposals will be invited through multiple funding opportunities over 3-5 years. See below for more details on this funding opportunity. Please be sure to read this entire document and related attachments, as updated information has been added to Section D. Application and Submission Information and Section E. Criteria to clarify requirements, expectations, and funding criteria. Funding Opportunities The purpose of this Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is to support existing or launch new strategies to reduce poaching and trafficking of two identified taxa: (1) saiga antelope (Saiga tatarica and Saiga borealis) in Central Asia and Mongolia, and (2) cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) in the Horn of Africa. This NOFO aligns with the missions of the Service and the Department of the Interior and reflects the priorities of the Biden-Harris Administration, including Administration policies articulated by Executive Orders 14008, 13985, and 14005. SAIGA ANTELOPE The saiga (Saiga tatarica and Saiga borealis)* is a Critically Endangered migratory antelope from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Russia, and Mongolia . Many human-induced threats impact saiga populations, particularly consumption and trade. Locally, saiga is hunted for meat, hide, and sport, but it is most traded internationally for its horn [2,3]. The horn is used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) where it is often marketed as líng yáng, 羚羊 . Poaching for saiga horn trade is a major threat to saiga survival . International trade in saiga products is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). In 1995 the species was added to Appendix II, and in 2019, its listing was amended to specify ‘zero quota’ for wild specimens traded for commercial purposes [3,6]. Additionally, a memorandum of understanding remains in place that was signed by all five extant saiga range states in 2005 . All such states currently have domestic regulations prohibiting hunting, possession, and trade in saiga. The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) also published a work program in 2021 outlining conservation priorities for the species . Despite concerted conservation efforts at local, national, and international levels, saiga poaching and trafficking persist due to high consumer demand, the clandestine nature of the trafficking chain, challenges in coordinating range and distal consumer countries, and barriers to preventing poaching and trafficking at the local level. This funding opportunity solicits projects to address poaching and trafficking of saiga with a focus on the desired outcomes outlined below. Proposed projects should achieve one or more of the following desired outcomes: 1. Saiga populations are protected and conserved in their native habitats. 1.1 Empirical data on rates of poaching and/or underlying drivers of poacher behavior are collected, analyzed, and understood using robust, ethical, and culturally appropriate methods. 1.2 Local monitoring teams are strengthened or established to reduce poaching of saiga via evidence-based activities and relevant training and support. 1.3 Barriers to community buy-in are understood and strategically addressed to further local protection, monitoring, and conservation efforts. 2. Saiga horn stockpiles are quantified and managed transparently. 2.1 Consumer countries are supported to understand (i) the distribution of saiga horn stockpiles (e.g., including when products are dispersed across non-government vendors’ stock) and (ii) the quantity of saiga horn across these stockpiles. 2.2 Evidence-based strategies are implemented and maintained to support effective management of saiga horn stockpiles and reporting to CITES or CMS as appropriate. 3. Demand for saiga horn is understood and reduced across consumer countries. 3.1 Empirical data on rates of consumption, underlying drivers of saiga horn consumer behavior, and/or on markets or policies affecting saiga horn consumption are collected, analyzed, and understood using robust, ethical, and culturally appropriate methods. 3.2 Strategic, evidence-based activities are implemented and evaluated to reduce consumer demand or product availability. Project activities should take place in saiga range countries (including Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Mongolia), and/or transit/consumer countries. * CITES taxonomy recognizes two saiga species - Saiga tatarica and Saiga borealis. However, IUCN recognizes Saiga tatarica as the only species in the genus Saiga (with two recognized subspecies: Saiga tatarica tatarica and Saiga tatarica mongolica). CHEETAH Historically widespread throughout non-forested areas of Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Indian Sub-continent, cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) are now found in only 9% of their historic range; 77% of their current distribution is outside protected areas and in human-dominated landscapes . The cheetah is listed in Appendix I of both Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, and is categorized as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . The global cheetah population is estimated at 7,100 individuals distributed between several highly fragmented populations, representing a 50% reduction in numbers from the 1960s . Gaps in knowledge exist on the distribution and density of cheetah, particularly throughout their range in the Horn of Africa. Cheetah population numbers have declined markedly as a result of persecution by humans primarily due to conflict with livestock and the illegal wildlife trade, as well as from changes in land management, a deterioration of their habitat, and declines in their prey population [10-13]. The illegal trade in cheetah is likely having the most dramatic impact on populations in eastern Africa and the Horn from where an estimated 300 or more cheetahs are smuggled each year primarily to supply the pet trade for wealthy buyers in the Middle East [10,11]. Live cheetah are also traded for zoo and wildlife park attractions globally, but particularly in eastern and southeast Asia . The illicit trade represents an annual loss of over 4% of the total cheetah population. More than 4,000 wild cheetahs have been recorded in illegal trade incidents since 2010, 87% of which were live animals . Shifts in modes of transport during the COVID-19 pandemic may have further escalated trade as evidenced by a 58% increase from the Horn into Yemen between March 2020 and February 2021 as compared to the year prior . This funding opportunity solicits projects to address cheetah trafficking from the Horn of Africa to the Middle East with a focus on the desired outcomes outlined below. Proposed projects should achieve one or more of the following desired outcomes: 1. Population monitoring data for cheetah in the Horn of Africa are used to inform conservation action plans. 1.1 Robust population/distribution data for cheetah are collected and used to inform anti-trafficking and conservation efforts. 1.2 Capacity is developed for national wildlife authorities or in-country research teams to sustain survey/monitoring work long-term. 1.3 National conservation action plans are developed and/or implemented in coordination with local and national authorities and in consultation with communities living with cheetah. 2. The capacity of law enforcement and/or cheetah monitoring networks are strengthened in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. 2.1 Law enforcement needs (e.g., resources, training, etc.) are identified and addressed to strengthen capacity to combat illegal trade in cheetah and other species. 2.2 Communication between national/regional/international law enforcement agencies is established and maintained. 2.3 Mechanisms for collecting and managing confiscation, arrests, prosecution, and sentencing data for cheetah and other wildlife are established, standardized, and maintained. 2.4 Local monitoring teams are established or strengthened to reduce poaching of cheetah via evidence-based activities and relevant training and support. 3. Drivers for cheetah poaching in the Horn of Africa are understood and addressed. 3.1 Baseline data on the social, cultural, economic, political, and situational factors that drive human-cheetah conflict are collected, analyzed, and understood using robust, ethical, and culturally appropriate social science methods. 3.2 Strategic, evidence-based activities, including those that address livelihoods, human wildlife conflict, and compliance with laws, are implemented and evaluated to reduce poaching of cheetah. 4. Demand for cheetah in consumer countries is understood and addressed. 4.1 Baseline data on rates of consumption and/or the social, cultural, economic, political, and situational factors that drive demand for cheetah are collected, analyzed, and understood using robust, ethical, and culturally appropriate social science methods. 4.2 Strategic partnerships and networks in demand countries are established for regional support on demand reduction activities. 4.3 Strategic, evidence-based activities are implemented and evaluated to reduce consumer demand or availability of wild cheetah. Project activities should take place in cheetah range, transit, and/or consumer countries with a focus on those countries where illicit trade presents a high level of threat to cheetah populations. LITERATURE CITED Links to the following documents are provided to applicants as reference only. The inclusion of these documents should not be viewed as an official endorsement of a particular approach or strategy in responding to this NOFO. Mallon DP (2008). Saiga tatarica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008. Kühl A, Balinova N, Bykova E, Arylov YN, Esipov A, Lushchekina AA, Milner-Gulland EJ (2009). The role of saiga poaching in rural communities: Linkages between attitudes, socio-economic circumstances and behaviour. Biological Conservation 142:1442-1449. CITES (2018). Saiga antelope (Saiga spp.): Report of the Secretariat. Seventieth meeting of the Standing Committee. Rosa Khutor, Sochi (Russian Federation). Doughty H, Veríssimo D, Tan RCQ, Lee JSH, Carrasco LR, Oliver K, Milner-Gulland EJ (2019) Saiga horn user characteristics, motivations, and purchasing behaviour in Singapore. PLOS ONE 14(9). CMS (2017). Memorandum of Understanding concerning Conservation, Restoration and Sustainable Use of the Saiga Antelope. Available from http://www.cms.int/en/legalinstrument/saiga-antelope. CITES (2019). Saiga antelope (Saiga spp.): Summary Record of the Tenth Session for Committee. Eighteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties. Geneva (Switzerland). CMS (2021). The Fourth Meeting of Signatories of the Memorandum of Understanding concerning Conservation, Restoration and Sustainable Use of the Saiga Antelope (Saiga spp.). Medium-term International Work Programme for the Saiga Antelope (2021- 2025). Online (Russian Federation). Durant, S.M., Mitchell, N., Groom, R. et al. (2017). The global decline of cheetah Acinonyx jubatus and what it means for conservation. PNAS. 114(3): 528-533. Durant, S., Mitchell, N., Ipavec, A. & Groom, R. (2015). Acinonyx jubatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T219A50649567. Accessed on 13 December 2021. Tricorache, P. & Stiles, D. (2021). Live cheetahs. Global initiative against transnational organized crime. Black market brief. https://globalinitiative.net/analysis/live-cheetahs/ Triocarche, P., Yashphe, S., Marker, L. (2021). Global dataset for seized and non-intercepted illegal cheetah trade (Acinonyx jubatus) 2010 – 2019. Data in brief. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33644272 Marker, L. (2019). Cheetahs Race for Survival: Ecology and Conservation, In M. Ferretti (Ed.). Wildlife Population Monitoring. IntechOpen, doi: 10.5772/intechopen.82255. Available from: https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/67071 Marker, L. (2018). Cheetahs: biology and conservation. Academic Press, London. Gilson, L., Biggs, H., Smit, I.P.J., Virah-Sawmy, M., Rogers, K. (2019). Finding a Common Ground between Adaptive Management and Evidence-based Approaches to Biodiversity Conservation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution. 34(1): 31-44.