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BirdLife Species Champions step forward at world’s biggest birdfair

Critically endangered birds sponsored

The world’s biggest bird conservation initiative has now launched, fittingly at the world’s biggest celebration of birds: the British Birdwatching Fair. BirdLife’s ‘Preventing Extinctions: saving the world’s most threatened birds’ took flight at the three day event, co-organised by RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) and Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust on the 19th-21st August. Already described as the biggest and most wide-ranging bird conservation programme the world has ever seen, BirdLife’s Preventing Extinctions 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 year the British Birdwatching Fair (‘Birdfair’) became the first of BirdLife’s Species Champions, funding conservations efforts to save not one, but four Critically Endangered birds: Belding’s Yellowthroat (Mexico), Djibouti Francolin (Djibouti), Restinga Antwren (Brazil) and Bengal Florican (Cambodia). Birdfair funds will contribute to identified conservation programmes that will pull each species back from the brink of extinction. For Restinga Antwren, SAVE Brasil (BirdLife in Brazil) will act as joint Species Guardian: We would like to thank Birdfair for all their support… said Priscila Napoli, a representative from SAVE Brasil, attending the launch. Funds will help protect this bird and to protect other birds in the region.The British Birdwatching Fair has a long history of funding BirdLife projects, so far contributing almost £2 million to conservation work on some of the world’s most threatened birds. Birdfair have announced their support for BirdLife’s Preventing Extinctions initiative both this year and next.

Birdfair has had an amazing influence on conservation and we are proud to be involved with BirdLife International – long may it last! proclaimed Tim Appleton, co-organiser of the Birdfair at the launch.

Three other Species Champions were also announced at the Birdfair launch: In Focus (optics) will act as Species Champions contributing to White-shouldered Ibis conservation efforts; The Leeds Castle Foundation have stepped forward for Blue-crowned Laughingthrush; and NHBS Environment Bookstore will contribute much-needed core funds to the initiative.

We are incredibly encouraged that these new Species Champions have come on board; that these organisation have realised the valuable input that they can make to conservation. said Dr Rands. Their support will significantly improve the survival odds of Critically Endangered birds.Graham Wynne, RSPB’s Chief Executive encouraged others to support the initiative by becoming BirdLife Species Champions, firmly stating: Organisations, institutions, companies and individuals should get behind this initiative – let’s pass the ultimate test.

The 19th Birdfair featured hundreds of stands promoting conservation volunteering and ecotourism as well as selling birdwatching kit: binoculars, scopes, books and clothing. Among the BirdLife Partners taking part were: Armonia (Bolivia), AOS (Azerbaijan), Aves Argentina, BSPB (Bulgaria), Falklands Conservation (Falkland Islands/Malvinas), Guyra Paraguay, LIPU (Italy), NatureKenya, PWS (Palestine), SAVE Brasil, SPNI (Israel), BirdLife South Africa and WBSJ (Japan).

BirdLife need your support. Help them 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 see: http://www.birdlife.org/action/campaigns/species_champions/index.html

4th July 2014