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Species Guardians and Species Champions: taking and funding action for the most threatened species

Belding’s Yellowthroat © Javier Lascurain/www.rarebirdsyearbook.com

The most threatened bird species often require direct species-specific interventions in order to improve their status. BirdLife International’s Preventing Extinctions Programme has taken action for over 500 (40%) of the world’s threatened bird species since 2008. For many Critically Endangered species, BirdLife has identified Species Guardians (the organisations or individuals who are best placed to implement the priority actions for threatened species) and is recruiting Species Champions (companies, institutions and individuals who provide the funds to support the work of Species Guardians).


Actions undertaken for 537 threatened species by BirdLife International 2008–2013

The most threatened bird species often require direct species-specific interventions in order to save them from extinction and improve their status. BirdLife International’s Preventing Extinctions Programme has taken action for over 500 (40%) of the world’s threatened bird species since 2008. Actions have focused on protecting and improving management of Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) and wider habitats (72% of species), strengthening protection of species (35%), and preventing or controlling hunting (17%),
supported by education and awareness-raising (60%). Most species have also received targeted research to enhance direct interventions (62%), and monitoring to better understand their status and trends (65%).

For a sample of 55 species receiving action, public awareness has increased for 93%, conservation capacity enhanced for 89% and threats reduced or stabilised for 80%. For example, veterinary use of the drug diclofenac has been banned in India, Nepal and Pakistan, benefiting several vulture species for which it has caused catastrophic declines, while Tahiti Monarch Pomarea nigra has benefited from control of invasive alien rats. The extent and condition of suitable habitat increased for 39% of species, e.g. encroaching scrub has been cleared from grasslands supporting Liben Lark Heteromirafra sidamoensis in Ethiopia. Protected areas were established or strengthened for 35% of species, e.g. lobbying by Species Guardians helped lead to the designation of a State Park in Brazil protecting Restinga Antwren Formicivora littoralis.

For many Critically Endangered species, BirdLife has identified Species Guardians. These are the organisations or individuals who are best placed to implement the priority actions for threatened species. Examples include: Nature Seychelles (BirdLife in the Seychelles), Species Guardian for Seychelles Paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone corvina, who are translocating individuals to additional predator-free islands in order to establish secure populations; Sociedade Portuguesa Para o Estudo Das Aves (SPEA: BirdLife in Portugal), the Guardian for Azores Bullfinch Pyrrhula murina, and who are clearing alien invasive plant species to improve the habitat for the species (among other activities); and Pronatura Noroeste (BirdLife in Mexico), the Guardian for Belding’s Yellowthroat Geothlypis beldingi, and who have developed and are implementing a Species Action Plan. The Preventing Extinctions Programme is also recruiting Species Champions: companies, institutions and individuals to provide the funds to support the work of Species Guardians.



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Compiled 2008, updated 2013

Recommended Citation:
BirdLife International (2013) Species Guardians and Species Champions: taking and funding action for the most threatened species. Presented as part of the BirdLife State of the world's birds website. Available from: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/269. Checked: 21/08/2014