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 minimize impending extinctions in this area of the world, where habitat loss, trade and hunting have 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 the world's mammal species for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, and showed that Southeast Asia had by far the highest concentration of species on the edge of extinction of any region in the world.
A meeting of conservation organizations 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 wonderful diversity of charismatic fauna.
By mobilizing support where it is urgently needed, drawing on the collaborative expertise of conservation practitioners, pool resources and efforts to maximize efficiency, and galvanise political will, ASAP hopes to minimise extinctions which could be imminent within the next two to three decades.
Form and Function of ASAP
ASAP has a mandate to:
As a matter of urgency, reverse the declines in the wild of Critically Endangered freshwater and terrestrial vertebrates in Southeast Asia.
The objectives of the partnership are:
• to identify and catalyze urgent actions to reduce immediate threats causing the decline of ASAP species;
• to facilitate the effective conservation of ASAP-eligible species by raising their profile;
• to catalyze a range of recovery activities for ASAP-eligible species by strengthening ongoing conservation action and promoting new initiatives;
• to encourage collection and distribution of information essential for the conservation action for ASAP-eligible species.
ASAP will also help to identify and prioritize what the conservation needs of species are on the ground, for example, conducting surveys to find out the specific threats that need to be mitigated and how – often through one or more of site-specific habitat protection, securing critical sites, capacity building for enforcement and species identification. ASAP also needs to facilitate safeguarding of populations where threat reduction may not now be enough e.g., through captive breeding programmes.
The eligible species: patterns of threat
Presently, there are 154 species on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species that meet all of the four ASAP criteria for eligibility: (1) Critically Endangered; (2) vertebrates occurring regularly in (3) Southeast Asia in (4) land or freshwater habitats. It should be noted, however, that some species included in this list, such as the Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea, which has not been observed in the wild, or in captivity, with any certainty since 1949 (BirdLife, 2012), may already be extinct.
The majority of the species listed as being Critically Endangered are freshwater fish, followed by mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, respectively.
ASAP Development Coordinator: Madhu Rao (general enquiries, proposals for working collaborations and details of how to engage with ASAP)
ASAP Chair: Lesley Dickie
Species Advisor: Will Duckworth (scientific or technical enquiries)