Asian Species Action Partnership (ASAP!) is an interagency coalition to address the extinction risk among the most threatened non-marine vertebrates of Southeast Asia. Organizations within the international conservation community are joining forces to minimise impending extinctions in this area of the world, where habitat loss, trade and hunting has contributed to a dramatic loss of its rich and incredible biodiversity.

Establishing Asian Species Action Partnership

The concept for the partnership was a response to the alarming results of a comprehensive Global Mammal Assessment in 2008. This was a programme to assess the conservation status of world’s mammal species for the IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM, and showed that South-east Asia had by far the highest concentration of species on the edge of extinction of any largely continental region in the world.

A meeting of conservation organisations shortly thereafter clarified that similar worrying patterns were shown by other hunted and traded groups (e.g., reptiles) in the region, and that a major cause was the explosion in urban markets for wildlife meat and medicinal products over the last ten to thirty years.

ASAP can be viewed as an emergency call with a species-specific response, aimed at focusing attention on a region that, without more serious conservation intervention, is likely to see the demise of much of its unique diversity of charismatic fauna.

By mobilising support where it is urgently needed, drawing on the collaborative expertise of conservation practitioners, pooling resources and efforts to maximise efficiency, and galvanising political will, ASAP hopes to minimise extinctions which could be imminent within the next two to three decades.

Map of Threatened Species / Burmese Roofed Turtle

Left: Global map of threatened mammal species (Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List) (Jenkins et al. 2013).

Right: Burmese Roofed Turtle Batagur trivittata © Brian Horne, once thought to be extinct; its rediscovery in 2002 underscores the need for additional surveys for this species so that extant wild populations and their habitats can be effectively protected. There is also a pressing need to diversify the captive holdings of this species as all the captive individuals are housed in Myanmar.

How Will the Asian Species Action Partnership Work?

Mandate

As a matter of urgency, reverse the declines in the wild of Critically Endangered freshwater and land vertebrates in South-east Asia.

ASAP aims to

  • catalyse urgent actions to reduce immediate threats causing the decline of ASAP species by filling knowledge gaps, initiating new initiatives for species recovery
  • strengthen ongoing conservation action by facilitating partnerships, raising profiles and increasing financial support
  • convene and support dialogue among stakeholders by helping coordinate and streamline action
  • improve efficiency and impact of conservation action by promoting conservation best practice for species planning and impact monitoring

ASAP’s key role will be in catalysing action to meet the conservation needs of a critical list of species. Shortfalls which are currently failing these species need to be identified and addressed, like improved access to funding, better species-specific information and gaining higher-level political leverage to influence policy and shape interventions. It is essential that the profile of these species at risk must be greatly improved locally and globally if their future is to be secured.

ASAP will also help to identify and prioritise what the needs of species are on the ground, for example, determining the specific threats that need to be removed or mitigated and how – often through one or more of securing critical sites and breaking trade networks. ASAP also needs to facilitate safeguarding of populations where threat reduction may not now be enough e.g., through captive breeding programmes.

In summary, ASAP faces some very stiff challenges by targeting high-risk species already facing a serious threat of extinction. Through the development of, for example, a strengthened network of specialists, a heightened global awareness of the urgency of action required, and an increased commitment to conservation by donors or governments in the region, ASAP aims to save species rather than witness their accelerated loss.

ASAP Structure

Current List of Participating Organisations and Projects in the ASAP Initiative

IUCN SSC Specialist Groups and Red List Authorities with ASAP species:

  • Amphibian SG
  • Asian Rhino SG
  • Asian Wild Cattle SG
  • Australian Marsupial and Monotreme SG
  • Bat SG: Tigga Kingston / Rodrigo Medellin
  • BirdLife International (RLA)
  • Crocodile SG
  • Deer SG
  • Freshwater Fish SG
  • Pangolin SG
  • Small Mammal SG
  • Snake and Lizard (RLA)
  • Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle SG
  • Wild Pig SG

Governing Council Organisations

  • European Association for Zoos and Aquaria
  • IUCN Asia Regional Office
  • IUCN SSC
  • Global Wildlife Conservation
  • TRAFFIC Southeast Asia
  • Wildlife Conservation Society
  • Wildlife Reserves Singapore 

For more information, please read the ASAP Constitution:

ASAP Constitution Final

Credits

ASAP logo design: Eric Losh
‘About Us’ featured image: Roland Wirth
Species data provided by IUCN: IUCN 2016. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-3 www.iucnredlist.org