The Hawk Conservancy Trust is helping to safeguard the future of one out of ten bird species benefitting from work done by zoos and aquariums.

The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), which promotes the values of good zoos and aquariums, has compiled a list of the top ten birds benefitting from the work of zoos and aquariums in the UK and Ireland.

The Hawk Conservancy Trust plays a significant role in helping to protect one of these top ten birds, and was home to the last collection of Oriental White-backed Vultures in Europe. The Trust has been working in partnership with WWF Pakistan since 2004 working on the conservation of Oriental White-backed Vultures. This project is based in Pakistan and activities include: surveys of wild populations; a conservation breeding facility; lobbying for the removal of diclofenac; establishing Vulture Safe Zones; and an educational project working with local community schools.

Campbell Murn, Head of Conservation and Research at the Hawk Conservancy Trust, said:

“We’ve been working hard on the conservation of Oriental White-backed Vultures since 1999. In 2004, we formed a partnership with WWF Pakistan to further our conservation and research efforts for this species. We are now looking forward to future success for this project and species.”

Dr Kirsten Pullen, CEO of BIAZA, said:

“This year’s Top Ten report is the fourth in a series which highlights the contribution of good zoos and aquariums to the conservation of the natural world. This time, the focus is on birds.

“Zoos and aquariums are an active part of the global conservation community. They can marry up active field conservation with the ‘Ark Concept’ of captive breeding programmes.

“The birds in our latest Top Ten report are all species that are reliant on captive breeding to complement field initiatives.”

Strict criteria were used to select the top ten. All the birds proposed had to be associated with current field initiatives by zoos and/or essential conservation breeding in zoos. Particular importance was placed on initiatives which included a management role in the species’ conservation, rather than just providing funds. Priority was also given to species listed as threatened on the international IUCN Red List of threatened species.

The top ten list demonstrates the importance of zoos and aquariums not only for conservation breeding of safety-net populations, but also for their contribution to funding and management of conservation projects in the field, including research, education and support for local communities, as well as protection of crucial wildlife habitats.

BIAZA’s top ten bird species benefitting from zoos and aquariums are:

African penguin: Numbers are plummeting in the wild due to oil spills, overfishing, shifts in food availability and human disturbance.

Bali starling: These are seen as very desirable cage birds, and illegal trapping has brought them to virtual extinction in the wild.

Blue-crowned laughing thrush: The zoo population of this Chinese bird equates to 50% of the total global population.

Ecuadorian Amazon parrot: With fewer than 600 individuals left, its survival relies on the protection of remaining wild populations and their habitats.

Edwards’s pheasant: There is a small captive population, but it has never been seen or studied by a scientist in the wild.

Madagascar pochard: Just 20-25 Madagascar pochard now survive in the wild.

Northern bald ibis: Pesticide poisoning has had a devastating effect on their numbers. The BIAZA community is working together to ensure a genetically diverse bloodline within the captive population.

Oriental white-backed Vulture: Species restoration has been made possible by zoo-based expertise and funding.

Socorro dove: A classic island species, numbers have been devastated by man-introduced pests like rats, cats and goats. Captive breeding has saved it from total extinction.

Visayan tarictic hornbill: Two BIAZA zoos are actively supporting in-situ work to save and restore the wild habitat of this species.

(This list is in alphabetical order)

For more information about all these species, read the full report: www.biaza.org.uk/campaigns/top-ten

Polly has almost 20 years in the media industry. As Editor of Andover and Villages, she strives to bring the latest and greatest news with a minutes notice. Polly can be contacted via editor@andoverandvillages.co.uk or alternatively called at