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Antiguan Racer (Alsophis antiguae)

Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 10251248

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation (Project No. 10251248) - Antiguan Racer - Awarded $5,000 on July 14, 2010

FFI works by invitation around the world to save species from extinction, habitats from destruction and to encourage sustainable development. Formed in 1903 in the United Kingdom, FFI acts to conserve threatened species and ecosystems worldwide, choosing solutions that are sustainable, are based on sound science and take account of human needs. We work through partnerships that ensure local ownership and lasting results and believe success lies in devising strategies that both conserve biodiversity and contribute to human development. Our guiding principles are to: respond to local needs, respect national priorities, develop strategic partnerships and strengthen our partners’ capacity. Our program of activities in Africa, the Americas, Asia Pacific, and Eurasia is delivered principally through: building capacity to equip local people and agencies to manage their natural heritage; monitoring causes of biodiversity loss and its impact on local people, identifying and implementing solutions that benefit people and wildlife; and securing threatened areas of high biodiversity importance through land purchase and local conservation agreements. Please provide description of FFI’s history of involvement in your region and with your target species. (350 word limit) FFI has worked in Antigua and Barbuda at the invitation of the government since 1995, and initiated the Antiguan Racer Conservation Project in partnership with the Forestry Unit (government agency responsible for all terrestrial biodiversity), Environmental Awareness Group (national NGO), Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Island Resources Foundation (regional NGOs). FFI’s Senior Conservation Scientist, Dr Jenny Daltry, led the first studies of the Antiguan Racer (Alsophis antiguae) and discovered only 50 individuals remained, leading to IUCN formally recognizing this species as Critically Endangered in 1996. Dr Daltry has served as the project’s lead scientist for 14 years (CV attached). Seven of our main achievements to date are: (1) conducting pioneering research on the ecology and population dynamics of the Antiguan Racer, and confirming this species cannot coexist with alien rats and mongooses (Rattus rattus and Herpestes javanicus). Therefore, we (2) eradicated rats and mongooses from 12 offshore islands using innovative techniques and (3) successfully reintroduced Antiguan Racers to three islands to enable the world population to from 50 to over 300, and increased its occupied range to 65 hectares. The alien invasive species control programme also (4) enabled a significant increase in nesting bird populations e.g., red-billed tropic bird nests have risen by >500% since 1995, and Caribbean brown pelican nests by >600%. Furthermore, we have (5) established environmental issues and biodiversity conservation into the national schools curriculum at primary and secondary levels, (6) won the Iris Darnton Award for International Wildlife Conservation, presented by HRH Princess Anne, and (7) successfully pressed for the creation of the North East Marine Management Area in 2006, which now protects over 25% of Antigua’s coastline. As outlined below, however, there is still much more work to be done to ensure the security of the racer and its habitat. This project is collaboratively co-managed by FFI and the partners listed below, with a Steering Committee comprised of additional relevant government agencies (Environment, Fisheries, Tourism, National Parks, and Education). Project staff operates out of the office of the Environmental Awareness Group in St John’s, Antigua, less than one hour from the offshore islands.

Project 10251248 location - Antigua and Barbuda, North America