Global alliance to combat biodiversity loss gathers momentum

01 September 2011 | News story

SOS—Save Our Species, a global response to the challenge of biodiversity loss, launched last year by IUCN, the Global Environment Facility and the World Bank, is already seeing results on the ground.

SOS brings together funding from private business with international conservation expertise to support on-the-ground conservation of threatened animals and plants and their habitats, based on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™.

Last month, surveys supported by a grant from SOS confirmed the presence of a population of pygmy hippos in the waterways at the foot of the Loma Mountain in the north of Sierra Leone. The project team is working with local villagers to stop hunting and protect the remaining habitat.

The pygmy hippo is an endangered mammal found only in the Upper Guinea Forests biodiversity hotspot with fewer than 3,000 believed to remain in the wild. Through the support of SOS, the Zoological Society of London’s EDGE Programme has been able to provide support to two new EDGE Fellows from Njala University in Sierra Leone to establish a pygmy hippo research and conservation programme in Sierra Leone (full story).

A new species of harlequin toad was found in Chocó, Colombia, during an SOS-supported field project, carried out by Conservation International (CI) and their local NGO project partner Fundación ProAves (full story). Only a handful of the more than 120 species of harlequin toad have healthy surviving populations. A grant from SOS is being used to protect and manage the toad’s habitat and educate local communities to build local support for conservation.

A new call for project proposals closed on 12 August 2011. Hundreds of applications have been received that will go through a rigorous selection process based on scientific criteria.

With thousands of animals and plants around the world facing extinction and species disappearing at a rate of up to 1,000 times higher than normal, the need for SOS has never been greater. This loss of wild plants and animals threatens basic human economic security and our way of life. Healthy biodiversity is essential to human well-being, sustainable development and poverty reduction.

SOS grants target specific threatened species and brings what has been greatly missing so far: coordination between many different key players. It also gives businesses a unique opportunity to become directly involved in saving the planet’s natural environment and helps companies meet their sustainable development goals. Nokia, the world’s leading mobile phone supplier and telecom networks provider, is the first company to join the initiative and will help raising consumers` awareness of biodiversity with the help of mobile technology.

“The emergency situation facing biodiversity calls for an emergency response. SOS seeks to do just that: bring the knowledge, expertise and funding together to address the plight of threatened wild animals and plants around the world,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, Director General of IUCN. “We know that conservation works and that we have the know-how necessary to bring wildlife back from the brink and preserve their habitats. The SOS Fund provides the much-needed resources to make this happen.”

For more information please visit: www.sospecies.org or contact:

Elke Blodau
Marketing & Communications Officer
Save Our Species Programme
+41 22 999 0372, elke.blodau@iucn.org