Friday, August 23, 2013

WARNING - Conservation Funding Scam

Bova Wildlife Conservation Centre

Please see the email below:

Dear Peter,

I need some help in getting a fraud-alert out to zoos and anyone dispensing grants for conservation:

There is a Cameroon-based group called the "Bova Wildlife Conservation Centre" going round applying for conservation grants, either to do with amphibian or ape conservation, but are likely to apply for anything they might get money for. Their grant proposals and mantra during correspondance appear extremely professional - too good to be true! However, following up their activities in Cameroon was always a dead-end. 

I know about this group because when I applied for a grant from the EAZA in 2011, only to be told a Cameroon-based organization was applying for funds for effectively the same species (Lake Oku Clawed Frog). It was recommended we collaborate, but when I did a background check on this organization (they made some claims very easy to follow up), they were clearly illegitimate. Though the EAZA eventually realised what was going on, the confusion held back conservation work in the field by a year, where it was even harder to achieve project goals. Even worst, Amphibian Ark went ahead and sent them funds. We later found the proposal, which was effectively cut and paste from a proposal on Oregon Spotted Frogs!

I write this now as when I ran a google search on Lake Oku, to my consternation no one learned anything - the John Ball Zoo Society has fallen victim to their scam too. Clearly word has not gotten round. 

The contact goes by many different names. It is always the Bova Wildlife Conservation Centre however. After this being posted, it is likely they will change the name of the organization. 

By all means, support good projects run by legitimate African conservationists. This is the next step after building capacity. But please, when you receive a grant application from an organization in Africa, be vigilant that it could be a step-up from the usual spam emails trying to solicit your naivety. Ask questions, run internet searches, check references, look on maps, ask researchers and conservation workers active in the country in question - just don't take things on face value! Most conservationists in these countries will be able to back up their claims. Giving money to these fraudsters robs real conservationists of funds and time. 

If you could post this on ZooNewsDigest, etc, that would be useful.

Best wishes,


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