BirdLife International Preventing Extinctions Programme (PEP)

Birds are disappearing

According to The 2015 Eskom Red Data Book of Birds of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, 161 (19%) of South Africa's 855 bird species (including those found only on the Prince Edward Islands) are listed as Threatened or Near-threatened. Thirteen species are regarded as Critically Endangered and these are:

White-winged Flufftail Sarothrura ayresi

Taita Falcon Falco fasciinucha

Tristan Albatross Diomedea dabbenenabirdlife-pep-1500

Bearded Vulture Gypaetus barbatus

Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus

White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus

White-headed Vulture Aegypius occipitalis

Blue Swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea

Damara Tern Sterna balaenarum

Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus

Crozet Shag Phalacrocorax melanogenis

Leach's Storm Petrel Oceanodroma leucorhoa

Southern Banded Snake-Eagle Circaetus fasciolatus


The reasons for the declines in our bird species have been identified as207-Wattl-Crane-41337 - WT

  1. Habitat loss
  2. Loss of prey base
  3. Poisoning incidents
  4. Electrocution and collisions
  5. Shooting and direct persecution
  6. Habitat management
The Preventing Extinctions Programme can save them

In  response to the rapidly increasing threat of bird extinctions around the world, BirdLife International  launched the BirdLife International Preventing Extinctions Programme (PEP) in 2008. The programme aims to implement conservation measures and research projects to better understand the challenges facing our threatened species. We need immediate action to protect our Threatened species, and bring Critically Endangered species back from the brink of extinction.

Two important communities form the heart of the BirdLife International Preventing Extinctions Programme. These are the Species Champions and Species Guardians. The programme is designed to focus attention, and money, at the sharp end of conservation: to save the globally critically threatened species.

Species Champions provide the funding                                                                        

Species Champions are companies, organisations or individuals who financially support the work done by the Species Guardians. It is their generous contributions that allow the Preventing Extinctions Programme to focus on saving our threatened species.

By becoming a BirdLife Species Champion, a donor will be making a direct contribution to help prevent extinctions! The full donor contribution is used in PEP - the largest percentage is allocated to the conservation of the threatened species, and a smaller percentage to BirdLife International and the local BirdLife Partner (BirdLife South Africa in South Africa), with these funds allowing the PEP to explore more champions for other similarly globally threatened species.

Successful conservation projects are rarely short term undertakings. Therefore, PEP projects cannot be launched for one year and abandoned in the next; we therefore encourage donors to commit to the project for three to five years.  In return for a three year funding commitment (or one year commitment of equivalent financial value that will cover the project for a minimum of three years), the donor will be recognised and acknowledged as the Species Champion by BirdLife South Africa (and BirdLife International) for the time period.

Reciprocal benefits to Species Champions

If donations to conservation require some form of reciprocal benefit, especially for corporate donors, the PEP provides these. Every Species Champion is licensed to use two logos – the BirdLife Species Champion logo as well as the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme logo. The benefits thus include reputation through association, publicity opportunities and access to new customers. On the BirdLife International website new species champions enjoy “top billing” for as long as they are the newest signing.  Second, species champions are advertised and promoted on banners and posters at national and international events. High profile coverage is further provided in the internationally published World Birdwatch and Rare Bird Yearbook.

However, the largest trade-off for any Species Champion should be in the trade-off to conservation and the prevention of extinction of a single species.

BirdLife South Africa is proud to have five Species Championsspecies champion blue RGB logo
  • Eskom, who supports the conservation of White-winged Flufftail in South Africa.
  • Eskom, who supports the conservation of Southern Bald Ibis in South Africa.
  • Petra Diamonds, who supports the conservation of Secretarybird in South Africa.
  • Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), who also supports the conservation of Secretarybird in South Africa.
  • Charl van der Merwe Trust, who supports the conservation of African Penguin in South Africa.
Eskom Blue logo                     PDL logo-2013 294                     ACSA small


For more information on how to become a Species Champion, please contact Dr Hanneline Smit-Robinson at    

Species Guardians undertake the research and conservation projects

Species Guardians are individuals or organisations who take responsibility for the conservation action. They are the teams on the ground who conduct surveys, raise awareness, develop and implement conservation plans and, in some cases, establish captive breeding and reintroduction programmes.

Species Guardians’ activities include most of the following examples:Ernst Retief with BLiNG - Hanneline Smit-RobinsonErnst Retief with BLiNG - Hanneline Smit-Robinson

  1. Implement priority actions for the species, in particular those identified and listed in BirdLife International’s species factsheets.
  2. Monitor trends in the species’ status through tracking observations, active research, publications, quantifying intensity of threats etc.
  3. Develop a working Species Action Plan, if one does not yet exist, outlining the priority actions and projects required.
  4. Facilitate and monitor the implementation of priority actions by other individuals or organisations involved in conserving the species and identify new priorities for action.
  5. Liaise and communicate in an open and collaborative manner with all individuals and organisations involved in carrying out research and implementing action for the species.
  6. Carry out or support fundraising through the BirdLife network organisation.
  7. Advocate for appropriate conservation measures to relevant authorities and institutions.
  8. Report these data to BirdLife South Africa (and BirdLife International) each year, and review and update the Birdlife species factsheet, including reporting on the actions implemented, their effect and new priority actions needed.
  9. Guardians may use the Species Guardians logo, and may call themselves BirdLife South Africa Species Guardian for [Species Name].

BirdLife South Africa will develop a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the Guardian. (Such a MoA is not necessary where BirdLife South Africa takes on the role of Guardian).

It is hoped that Species Guardians will take on the role as part of a longer term commitment. Appointments will be reviewed on an annual basis, covering progress, success, communication, support etc., from the perspective of both the Species Guardian and BirdLife South Africa.

BirdLife South Africa is proud to have three Species GuardiansSpecies Guardian

For more information on how to become a Species Guardian, please contact Dr Hanneline Smit-Robinson at