2017 Annual Report

Letter from GWC Chief Scientist and CEO Dr. Wes Sechrest

Biodiversity is essentially the Earth’s operating system. The interplay of wildlife and wilderness runs continuously in the background of our lives, enabling the air that we breathe, the food that we eat, and even our ability to mitigate climate change.

Working in conservation brings biodiversity to the forefront. Every day at Global Wildlife Conservation, we are inspired by the inhabitants of our world’s ecosystems — and reminded of the irreplaceable role played by each. Biodiversity creates healthier, more resilient systems. All living things are interconnected, and losing just one small species or habitat can cause a wide-reaching ripple effect.

That’s why at GWC we support many projects aimed at saving species that are truly on the brink, with only a handful of individuals left. Without our focused time and attention, they might quietly slip away forever. For example, in 2017 a GWC-supported breeding program helped the world’s rarest wading bird, the Kakī, rebound from the brink of extinction in New Zealand. And actor Daniel Craig’s support turned a global spotlight on our Search for Lost Species campaign, the largest-ever quest to find and protect species missing to science. A sighting of the Jackson’s Climbing Salamander — the first since 1975 — led GWC and our partners to expand the amphibian’s protected reserve in Guatemala. It also ignited hope that the other lost species may still be out there, waiting to be rediscovered.

We continued to engage local partners and indigenous people in creating community-driven conservation solutions across the globe. From the front lines, these stewards see how the fates of their area’s humans, wildlife and wilderness are uniquely intertwined. Key 2017 projects included creating a protected area management plan in Nicaragua’s Indio Maíz Biological Reserve, advancing an anti-poaching model in Vietnam’s Pu Mat National Park (to protect the Large-antlered Muntjac and Saola), and successfully advocating for the Jamaican government to establish Goat Islands as a wildlife sanctuary for numerous species, including the Endangered Jamaica Iguana, rather than a $1.5 billion transshipment port.

In addition to our partners, we couldn’t do this work without our donors, supporters and staff.

These forces came together in late 2017 when the Sheth Sangreal Foundation issued a $15 million challenge grant to match donations to GWC dollar-for-dollar. This gift also enabled GWC to bring world-renowned wildlife champion Dr. Russ Mittermeier on as Chief Conservation Officer, a new leadership role meant to position GWC as an even more powerful force for the protection of endangered wildlife and wildlands worldwide.

Our team looks forward to continuing our important efforts to preserve the diversity of life on Earth. We invite you to follow us and join us as we work toward a truly wild world.


Dr. Wes Sechrest
GWC Chief Scientist and CEO


Humans need nature for our physical survival, our economic livelihoods and our emotional well-being.

Unfortunately, human activities have put much of nature in jeopardy. Many species are extinct and some ecosystems have collapsed, and many others are on the brink. The good news is that the solutions also lie with us. But we must act quickly, decisively — and collaboratively.

That’s where GWC comes in, working with our partners and local communities.

Protecting life on Earth is what we do.

GWC conserves the diversity of life on Earth by safeguarding wildlands, protecting wildlife and supporting guardians. We maximize our impact through scientific research, biodiversity exploration, habitat conservation, protected area management, wildlife crime prevention, endangered species recovery and conservation leadership cultivation.

1. Safeguarding wildlands

GWC safeguards endangered species’ habitats by creating and managing protected sites across the globe. Working with our local partners and communities, in 2017 we protected more than 50,000 acres of habitat for more than 150 endangered species.

After years of advocacy from GWC and our partner Jamaica Environment Trust, the Jamaican government announced it will establish Goat Islands as a wildlife sanctuary for a variety of species, including the Endangered Jamaica Iguana — fully reversing its plans to construct a $1.5 billion transshipment port. In southwest Ecuador, financial support from GWC and our close partner Australian Reptile Park enabled Fundación Jocotoco to expand Buenaventura Reserve, the region’s sole protected area for 15 globally threatened bird species including the Endangered El Oro Parakeet. And on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast, we worked intensively with the Rama and Kriol people to create a protected area management plan for Indio Maíz Biological Reserve, home to Baird’s Tapirs, Jaguars and White-lipped Peccaries. This visual, community-driven plan is designed to protect wildlife, traditional cultures and local livelihoods.

We complemented this local work with global research and leadership. GWC Chief Scientist and CEO Dr. Wes Sechrest co-authored a paper published in BioScience that identifies a strategy for halting the world’s extinction crisis by protecting half the Earth by 2050.

(Photo by the Southern Institute of Ecology and the Saola Working Group)

2. Protecting wildlife

GWC develops and implements wildlife recovery plans for key threatened species. In April 2017, we kicked off the Search for Lost Species, the largest-ever quest to find and protect species missing to science. Actor Daniel Craig and artist Alexis Rockman helped us raise the public profile of this critical mission. Incredibly, scientists rediscovered the first of our 25 “most wanted” species — Jackson’s Climbing Salamander — in Guatemala in October 2017. This was the first sighting since 1975, and spurred GWC and our partners to expand the amphibian’s Yal Yunin Yul Witz Amphibian Reserve.

Our innovative partnerships throughout Southeast Asia enabled us to develop community-driven conservation strategies for key biodiversity areas. In the Philippines, we supported rezoning in Mounts Iglit-Baco National Park to aid the long-term survival of both the Critically Endangered Tamaraw (a dwarf buffalo) and the indigenous Mangyan people. In Vietnam’s Ammamite Mountains, we helped develop anti-poaching models protecting large and medium-sized animals in two critically important parks. We built local capacity for wildlife guardianship in Pu Mat National Park by establishing a community snare team and implementing SMART software to help monitor and stop poaching. And a GWC-supported camera trap in Lang Biang Biosphere Reserve caught a rare photo of the Large-antlered Muntjac, revealing the park’s potential for saving this Critically Endangered species.

Meanwhile, in Central America we developed a range-wide partnership for Baird’s Tapir recovery, building the capacity of champions for the species in countries across its range.

3. Supporting guardians

GWC works to provide conservation guardians around the world — including researchers, conservationists and academics — with the support and capacity-building they need to succeed. Together we’re changing the conservation narrative from that of doom-and-gloom to that of hope. Helping to set the tone is world-renowned wildlife champion Dr. Russ Mittermeier, who joined GWC as Chief Conservation Officer in 2017. This leadership role helps position GWC as an even more powerful force for the protection of endangered wildlife and wildlands worldwide.

In 2017, we brought eight new conservationists into our associates program to address issues ranging from amphibians to Annamite Striped Rabbits to wildlife crime prevention. To help save lives on the front lines of the poaching battle (more than 1,000 rangers have been killed on duty over the past decade), we collaborated with several organizations to develop Training Guidelines for Field Rangers. This first-of-its kind resource to improve rangers’ working conditions and training aims to save the lives of both humans and wildlife. Additionally, we conducted a survey of ranger numbers and working conditions across Mesoamerica.

Statement of Financial Position

Financial Information for fiscal year ending 6/30/2017

Looking Ahead

The year 2017 was an incredibly successful one for GWC. We continued to build on our work across important wild places and threatened wildlife, while also supporting our many guardians as they protect the planet.

We will celebrate GWC’s 10th anniversary in 2018, and look forward to increasing our impact in existing sites while also building new programs with strong partners. We plan to expand our projects in the Guiana Shield, Central Africa and New Guinea, and to create comprehensive programs around species conservation. We will implement our systematic approach to protected area management in several new sites, with the goal of achieving zero poaching at all GWC-supported sites. In addition, we are implementing new projects for Endangered and Critically Endangered species around the world, from the Bolson’s Tortoise in Mexico, to the Large-antlered Muntjac in Laos and Vietnam, to the Kakī in New Zealand.

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Austin, TX 72767 USA