After careful review and support from our new sponsor, Kaddas Enterprises, we’re proud to announce that HawkWatch International (HWI) will support five researchers through our Global Raptor Research & Conservation Grant (GRRCG) in 2023. This year’s recipients will expand the grant’s reach, supporting raptor conservation in three new countries and on three new species as we continue to focus on the most vulnerable and understudied species in the world. The winners also focused heavily on understudied species, with four of the five working with a species with ten or fewer peer-reviewed studies.
The understudied Rufous-tailed Hawk rose to the top of the list for this year’s Latin American proposals, with Brayan Gomez’s proposal to investigate their breeding productivity in Chile selected as the winner. Brayan will compare productivity in two habitats: temperate forests and mature exotic forest plantations. This work could help us better understand how the species deals with forest activities—critical knowledge as the number of implanted forests continues to rise in southern Chile.
Lungten will investigate the population status, distribution, and conservation threats to the understudied Endangered Pallas’s Fish Eagle. Lungten will use his funding to conduct population surveys of this rare and endangered species in Bhutan, which, if accepted, will make it one of the few peer-reviewed studies on the species.
Arjun P. Kannan is the second researcher from India to receive support from the GRRC grant. His work on the Pied Harrier will help us better understand this species with only one publication. Specifically, Arjun work to document important winter roosting sites, as well as the breeding status of the species.
In addition to these understudied species, the reviewers selected one proposal on a relatively well-studied but Critically Endangered species, the Hooded Vulture. Sylvestre Abiola Chaffra will survey vulture parts at markets in Benin, something the committee found to be of huge conservation value. The committee also felt like there was a lot of opportunity for capacity building, given that little raptor conservation work has occurred in Benin previously and that the illegal trade of vulture parts is a major conservation concern in West Africa.
Finally, David Ricardo Rodríguez-Villamil, a 2022 Global Raptor Research & Conservation Grant awardee, was selected to receive follow-on funding for his work to document the population of Vulnerable Cloud-forest Pygmy Owls. David will use his second award to document the diet, reproductive biology, vocal activity, habitat preference, and population status of Cloud-forest Pygmy-Owl. David hopes to submit his research to make this the first peer-reviewed study on the species. This is the first time the committee has provided additional funding to an existing applicant.
This year’s expansion of awards, including David Ricardo Rodríguez-Villamil’s follow-on funding, was made possible thanks to a new sponsorship by Kaddas Enterprises. Kaddas is a global leader in raptor conservation, developing perch guards and other products to prevent contact between raptors and powerlines.
In addition to a new sponsor, our team used a new evaluation process for this year’s awards. “With over 130 applicants in 3 years, our team knew there was a huge demand for this funding and decided to seek the recommendation of experts from the regions the applicants reside to make it as fair as possible,” shared Dr. Megan Murgatroyd. After a first-round internal review by six of HawkWatch International’s scientists, finalists were selected by the following outside reviewers: Munir Virani (Africa), Tulsi Subedi (Asia), and Juan Manuel Grande (Latin America).
- Munir Virani, Ph.D., has over 25 years of raptor experience spanning four continents. Now the Chief Executive Officer at the Mohamed Bin Zayed Raptor Conservation Fund, Munir has worked with raptors from the Neotropical region, South Asia, Mongolia, and East Africa.
- Tulsi Subedi, Ph.D., has over a decade of experience in wildlife research and conservation focused on birds of prey. Before joining Himalayan Nature in Nepal as their Director of Programs, he was a Vulture Field biologist at Bird Conservation Nepal.
- Juan Manuel Grande, Ph.D., brings over 20 years of raptor experience to our review panel. His work at the National Scientific and Technical Research Council focuses broadly on the ecology and conservation of raptors in Argentina.
HWI’s Global Raptor Research & Conservation Grant supports projects addressing raptor conservation priorities and knowledge gaps around the world. The grant aims to increase diversity and inclusivity in conservation while building local capacity. Out of 25 qualifying proposals, focusing on 35 species in 16 countries, HWI approved five projects for funding in 2023, totaling nearly $12,500 in awards.
This blog was written by Kirsten Elliott, HWI’s Development and Communications Director. You can learn more about Kirsten here.