The Zoo Miami Conservation and Research Fund was created in 1998 to promote efforts toward conservation of wildlife and natural ecosystems throughout the world.
The current award cycle had $25,000 available with each awarded grant capped at $5,000. The Zoo Miami Conservation Committee waded through worthy applications received from around the world from individuals and organizations doing amazing work to protect species and habitats. The tough decisions were made and the committee decided to make awards to the following projects:
Coastal Cleanup Corporation
Coastal Cleanup Corporation (CCC) is a non-profit organization with a mission to remove marine debris from the Southeast Florida coastline and to educate citizens about the problem of marine debris in local waters. CCC volunteers work closely with Biscayne National Park managers to restore the sea turtle nesting habitat on Elliott Key. In the last six years, they have removed over 33,000 pounds of debris and sea turtle nesting activity has significantly improved.
Anteaters and Highways Project
Dr. Arnaud Desbiez works in the Cerrado biome of Mato Grosso do Sul State of Brazil to understand and quantify the impacts of roads — road-kills and movement barriers — and their consequences for giant anteater densities, population structure and health, and to define landscape and road management strategies to prevent potential giant anteater local population extinctions.
Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative, Brazil
Dr. Patrícia Medici is the research coordinator for the Institute for Ecological Research and coordinates a nationwide, longterm research and conservation effort to have tapir research and conservation programs being carried out in all four Brazilian biomes where lowland tapirs are found — Atlantic Forest, Pantanal, Cerrado and Amazon — and biome-based Tapir Action Plans developed and implemented.
Taita Warty Frog Project
Michael Gichia is working to create sound future in situ conservation and management strategies for the critically endangered Taita warty frog in the Taita hill forest in Kenya. Gichia will conduct a detailed population status assessment of the frog, engage citizen scientists through the restoration planting of 1,000 indigenous tree seedlings, and conduct public awareness campaigns with 20 local youths to reach 3,000 school children, 2,000 local community members and 15 conservation stakeholders.
Community-Driven Conservation of Kibale National Park, Uganda
The New Nature Foundation, directed by Rebecca Goldstone and Michael Stern, partners with those who border Kibale National Park and those who live in the nearest urban center, empowering citizens to find alternatives to firewood and charcoal, feel better connected to natural endangered landscapes, and become ambassadors for fuel wood alternatives. Their program empowers Ugandans to conserve Kibale National Park, thereby protecting habitat for chimpanzees, elephants, antelope and countless other endangered and endemic species.
Exploring Exuma Sound
Brendan Talwar, with the Cape Eleuthera Foundation and in coordination with the Bahamas National Trust, will conduct a rapid assessment of marine megafauna and fishing activity in northern Exuma Sound through unmanned aerial surveys utilizing cutting edge new drone technology. This will assess the diversity and relative abundance of marine mammals, evaluate the effectiveness of this technology in mapping fishing activity in order to inform low-cost, staff-limited enforcement and help establish marine protected areas in the future.