The West and Central African Species Action Plan (WCASAP), which was launched by the Leo Foundation and partners at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in 2016, was recently discussed at a joint meeting between the Leo Foundation and employees of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) during a visit to the UK. We discussed the best way forward to get more attention and funding for critically endangered species in that region of Africa to benefit conservation. A fruitful meeting on a very hot Ascension Day.
What is WCASAP?
The acronym stands for West- and Central African Species Action Plan. It is an initiative originating from the IUCN World Conservation Congresses in 2012 and a follow up in 2016, to get support for species which are (regionally) critically endangered in West and Central Africa. The WCASAP initiative is restricted to terrestrial and freshwater vertebrate species. In total, there are 97 species on the list, mostly fish and amphibian species, but also primates, lions and painted dogs. The aim of the initiative is to attract focused funding and to boost regional conservation impact. In addition, it will facilitate the creation of a network of organisations active in the region, which –although working on different species- can complement each other. As most organisations depend on fundraising, we hope that large funding agencies, such as the Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (MBZSCF) and the Save Our Species (SOS) fund, will adopt the initiative and use the WCASAP species list as a priority criterion in their awarding procedures.
Why is Leo Foundation involved?
Recognizing its potential, the Leo Foundation adopted the WCASAP initiative and co-organised a workshop at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in 2016. The initiative was officially launched at this occasion and received wide support from IUCN members, both from the region of West and Central Africa, and from outside the region. The Leo Foundation is now looking for larger conservation partners to give support to the WCASAP initiative, hence our meeting with the ZSL.
The ZSL is an experienced and established organisation in nature conservation and it has shown interest in the initiative. We had a fruitful discussion and will use their suggestions to further develop the initiative.