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MBZ Blog

People power healing nature

Some might argue that the conservation movement began before the industrial era in 1662 when John Evelyn presented his work called “Sylva or a discourse on forest trees and the propagation of timber in His Majesty’s dominions” to the Royal Society.  Others would credit John Muir and the Sierra Club for starting the modern movement.  Either way, the need to protect a natural resource, dates back centuries and at the core of every conservation effort are passionate, determined people willing to go the extra mile.

From the early 1920’s, Sheikh Zayed’s thirst for knowledge took him into the desert with Bedouin tribesmen to learn all he could about the way of life of the people and the environment.  Information and skills shared with generations and what would eventually lead to the formation of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund.

Over the past 14 years, the MBZ Fund grew its network to include over 10,000 passionate people on the ground from conservationists, biologists, ecologists, field workers and volunteers that aided the more than 2700 projects supported by the Fund.  The common denominator associated with every successful conservation project is a human driving success.

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Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundations’ generous support

Since 2013, the Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation (SWCCF) has generously contributed $314,515 to support cat conservation projects through the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (MBZF).

As a reputable Foundation with an incredible global support structure, we asked Founder and Director, Dr Jim Sanderson, why partnering with the MBZF ticks all the boxes for SWCCF.

“The MBZF application portal is the single most effective global recruiting tool for wild cat conservation projects. As an established conservation agency, the MBZF receives a large number of submissions from all over the world, whether from first-time applicants or experienced conservation practitioners. It’s impossible for a small NGO like SWCCF to reach such an audience. Their application process is straightforward and encourages applicants to reason their projects through from actions to the budget that supports those actions. If an application is rejected, we can easily contact the applicant to encourage an improved proposal for resubmission. Such a capability is rarely within the rules of reviewing proposals.

With an increased number of worthy projects, more applicants deserve funding, but the wild cat budget is limited since the MBZF support ALL species and are not only focused on wild cats. This is another reason why the SWCCF is happy to assist with top-up funding, allowing the MBZF to support more wild cat proposals.

The additional SWCCF funding also caters for continuous project support allowing new applicants to build a long-term relationship with the MBZF. Apart from supporting first time applicants, worthy projects can also apply for follow-on funding with the success of these projects tracked by mid-term and end of project reports. Often, MBZF’s stamp of approval also opens doors for external funding.

Over a decade of working together, we believe to have created the model blueprint and urge other species specialists to follow suit. Conservation success can only be achieved through successful symbiotic partnerships, the MBZF/SWCCF one is testament to that.

Dr Jim Sanderson
Founder and Director

Dugong and Seagrass project: a lasting legacy

The dugong (Dugong dugon) is the only herbivorous marine mammal and closely related to manatees.  They are both distant relatives of the elephant, although the giant land animal is not at all similar in appearance or behavior.

Dr Leela Rajamani has been working on the Malaysia dugong and seagrass conservation project (which is supported by the MBZ Fund) between 2015 to 2018.  We recently caught up with this eco hero to learn more about her conservation journey.

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Nicolas Heard talks to 10-year old Osha Al Mansoori

Osha Al Mansoori, at only 10 is the youngest Emirati female falconer in the country.  She’s a bit of a rockstar in the falconry world and was first introduced to these majestic birds of prey when she was just six months old.  She recently met Nicolas Heard, Acting Director General of the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund at the Jubail Mangrove Park to learn more about his conservation journey.

OSHA AL MANSOORI  What is the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund?

NICOLAS HEARD   The MBZ Fund help people all around the world to help protect endangered species and to prevent them going extinct. The Fund does this by providing small grants to those people on the ground, doing local species conservation projects.

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The MBZ Fund expands its support to include threatened soil species

Over the last 14 years the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund has always been able to provide grants to support the conservation of threatened species that are usually overlooked – the less charismatic species.


This included grants for fungus conservation, and invertebrates of many different types, as well as the small mammals, frogs and reptiles that do not usually receive conservation consideration.  To expand the support to wider demographic of species the MBZ Fund will be experimenting with funding for soil biota and threatened soil species as they play a key role to ensuring a healthy ecosystem.

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More funds, more species

Following the recent review meeting, and for the first grants round of 2023, the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund has awarded half a million dollars to support species conservation globally.

The latest round of funding supports 52 projects, reaching an additional 24 species and sub-species, increasing the total number of species rediscovered, reintroduced and protected from extinction to 1649.  Since its inception, the Fund has now provided around $24,689,700 across 160 countries.

No project is more important than the next, but we are extra curious to monitor the progress of the following initiatives –

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Razan Al Mubarak to be UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28

Today, the United Arab Emirates announced that Razan Al Mubarak, Managing Director of the MBZ Fund, will join the leadership team for United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28), to be held in Dubai in November, 2023, as the UN Climate Change High-Level Champion.

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