Preventing Extinctions

Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Chaiwat Chinuparawat; www.theworldsrarest.com)


  • The right people in the right places to prevent bird extinctions

Over its 90 year span, the BirdLife Partnership has an impressive track record in species conservation. From Seychelles to the Pacific and the South American rainforest to isolated European outposts, the expertise needed to prevent species extinction within the Partnership is immense.

The way in which species conservation operates has moved into the 21st century and rather than tackle each species on a case by case basis, we are implementing a programme of work that best uses the network of individuals within the BirdLife Partnership, and beyond. Wherever it may be.

Thousands of plants and animals are currently experiencing rapid declines right across the globe. The numbers are clear. Today, one in eight of the world’s 10,000 bird species are threatened with extinction: over 200 bird species are categorised as Critically Endangered. In imminent danger of extinction.

However, the BirdLife Partnership is well placed to halt these declines. Working globally at a local level, we bring the right people together to do what is needed, where it needed most.

Polynesian Ground-dove (Pete Morris)


Combining rigorous science, practical conservation, fundraising and communication, the Programme is delivering something ground breaking. During its first four years, we have already begun to save 68 species. In this short time, over 85% of these species are already seeing the positive impact of our work. Through reducing the severity of threats and learning more about what they need to survive.

We have also developed a global network of Species Guardians to start saving Critically Endangered species. These people receive funding, advice and most importantly the support they need to carry out their work. Making sure these people have access to the information and expertise they need is crucial to developing the conservation skills where they are most needed.

Searches for ‘lost’ birds have been undertaken for 11 species. These are birds that haven’t been seen for a considerable period of time but are thought unlikely to be extinct. One search found the target species (Cuban Kite), while two produced reports from local people (Himalayan Quail) or unconfirmed sightings (Archer’s Lark). In addition, eight searches produced significant records of other species of conservation concern.

In addition, BirdLife has profiled and is advocating the ten measures that alone will go a long way to preventing future extinctions: (these could link to other content)

  • Prevent the veterinary use of diclofenac in Asia and Africa.
  • Apply seabird by catch mitigation measures in longline fisheries.
  • Control invasive alien species.
  • Control the caged bird trade and unsustainable hunting.
  • Tackle multiple threats on Hawaii, and on French and UK overseas territories.
  • Protect remnant forests on São Tomé, Comoro Islands and Sangihe, Indonesia.
  • Safeguard Atlantic Forest remnants in Brazil.
  • Protect and manage tropical forest Important Bird Areas in Indonesia, the Philippines, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Mexico.
  • Strengthen effective wetland  conservation efforts in Asia.
  • Search for ‘lost’ species in Brazil, India, Russia, Samoa and elsewhere.


Policy and Science

  • The global authority on status, sites and threats

BirdLife aims to improve the conservation status of all the world's birds, and hence species are often the starting point for our scientific research. The BirdLife Secretariat is the Red List Authority for birds on the IUCN Red List, coordinating the process of evaluating all of the world’s 10,000 bird species against the Red List categories and criteria in order to assess their extinction risk. Our detailed information on the threats to species and actions required helps to shape the conservation action implemented by the BirdLife Partnership through its Preventing Extinction Programme

Monitoring the growth of Sociable Lawing Chicks (ACBK)


  • Threatened birds need Guardians and Champions

Species Champions

BirdLife Species Champions are a growing community of companies, institutions and individuals that support the conservation which prevents bird extinctions.

As well as providing the funding that brings threatened birds back from the brink of extinction, Species Champions also draw attention to the plight of the species they support and all the other threatened species the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme embraces.

In addition to funding BirdLife Species Guardians who carry out conservation on the ground, a small proportion of every contribution also helps protect the ‘orphaned’ species for which no champion has yet stepped forward. In this way we are putting conservation in place where it doesn’t exist today - before it is too late.


Species Guardians

Central to the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme is the appointment of Species Guardians who take the lead in conserving a globally threatened species in their country or region. Their primary role is to take and encourage greater conservation action for their species, working with national and local governments, other concerned individuals, organisations and local communities.

Priority is given to the recruitment of and support to Species Guardians for globally threatened species that are Critically Endangered and are most urgently in need of conservation attention. BirdLife provides these Species Guardians with technical support, training, and the investment of funds for conservation action. BirdLife also supports the Species Guardians through liaison with decision-makers and governments, and raising awareness through ensuring coverage of their conservation work by the world’s media.

BirdLife's cutting-edge global science work ensures Species Guardians operate with objectivity and adhere to clear global priorities, and that systems are in place to measure success.