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British Bird Fair Helps Endangered Birds

Asian rare bird first to benefit from world’s largest bird conservation programme

Bengal Florican, one of the world’s most threatened birds, will be first to benefit from a new conservation approach that aims to save all 189 of the world’s Critically Endangered birds from extinction. With less than 1,000 individual birds remaining, Bengal Florican had been given just five years before disappearing forever from its stronghold, the floodplain of the Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia. The florican will benefit from the groundbreaking new ‘BirdLife Species Champions’ approach; whereby ‘Champions’ are being sought for Critically Endangered birds, to fund identified conservation programmes that will pull each species back from the brink of extinction. The ‘Species Champion’ for Bengal Florican will be the British Birdwatching Fair 2007, contributing toward conservation works being undertaken by BirdLife ‘Species Guardians’ working in Cambodia. Three other Critically Endangered birds will also benefit: Belding’s Yellowthroat (Mexico), Djibouti Francolin (Djibouti), Restinga Antwren (Brazil). Since being re-discovered in Cambodia in 1999, Bengal Florican numbers have plummeted due to unregulated land conversion for intensive agriculture. The BirdLife Species Champions funding will contribute toward the government-approved ‘Integrated Farming and Biodiversity Areas’ programme in Cambodia, encouraging communities to favour ‘low-impact’ traditional farming techniques over intensive non-sustainable dry-season rice production.

It is a fantastic privilege that Birdfair can act as Species Champion for the Bengal Florican, said Martin Davies, co-organiser of the British Birdwatching Fair. Visitors to the fair can take heart in knowing that their contributions will directly help the survival prospects of birds that otherwise would certainly disappear from the planet forever.

Critically Endangered birds can be saved from extinction through this innovative approach, said Dr Mike Rands, Chief Executive of BirdLife International, on the BirdLife Species Champions initiative. We know the priority conservation actions needed for each species – what we need now is the support of companies, organisations or even individuals –Species Champions. Already described as the biggest and most wide-ranging bird conservation programme the world has ever seen, BirdLife’s Species Champions initiative aims to save all 189 Critically Endangered birds, by finding ‘Species Champions’ who will fund the work of identified ‘Species Guardians’ for each bird - organisations and people best placed to carry out the conservation work necessary to prevent an otherwise certain extinction.

This is an enormous challenge, but one we are fully committed to achieving in our efforts to save the world’s birds from extinction, added Dr Rands.

One hundred and eighty-nine wonderful and fascinating bird species are on the brink of disappearing forever. Any such extinction diminishes us, and narrows our world, said Dr Leon Bennun, Birdlife’s Director of Science, Policy & Information. But these birds can be saved – the support of Species Champions will make this possible.

The BirdLife Species Champions initiative will be launched officially at this year's British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water (August 19-21), co-organised by the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) and the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust.

We need your support. Help us save each of the world’s 189 Critically Endangered birds by signing up your company or institution as a BirdLife Species Champion. Together we can turn the tide on extinctions.

4th July 2014