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Our experts are battling to save this little bird from extinction. Please help now.
There are fewer than 100 spoon-billed sandpiper breeding pairs left in the wild. This could be our last chance to save an entire species.
"This mission to save the spoon-billed sandpiper is ambitious and challenging, an expedition worthy of a James Bond film, but we can do it. With your help we can save this bird from extinction. Whether you donate the price of your next cup of coffee, or hundreds of pounds, it will help. What better legacy can we leave today, for generations to come."
Kate Humble, WWT Vice President
An extraordinary bird in terrible trouble
Imagine you are a spoon-billed sandpiper migrating each winter from the Chukotsk and Kamchatka peninsulas in the Russian Far East to the balmy shores of Thailand, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Your journey takes you across Russia, Japan, North and South Korea and China – an incredible 16,000km round trip.
No bigger than a sparrow, you face terrible dangers. Your natural breeding habitat of wild tundra is drying up due to climate change. The village nearby attracts predators like stoat and fox, which destroy your eggs and devour your chicks. Once on the wing to your winter-feeding grounds, you risk being trapped in hunter's nets or succumbing to exhaustion and starvation because the few remaining wetland habitats you rely on to feed and recuperate are being destroyed.
Our experts believe this year could be our last chance to save it
In the last decade alone, spoon-billed sandpipers have declined by a staggering 90%. The situation is so serious that WWT has taken the bold step of making two expeditions to Far East Russia to bring back eggs to a purpose-built aviary in Slimbridge. Our team of world class experts braved the icy cold of Eastern Russia's wild tundra and spent weeks scouring the hostile landscape for nests. Once the precious eggs were found, they used their specialist knowledge to calculate the optimum time to remove the eggs, and control the moisture levels the eggs are exposed to, so that they hatch back in the UK and not en route. All this and much more to give this dynamic little bird one last chance of survival.
As a result of their dedication, we have managed to raise 12 birds from the first trip and we have just successfully hatched 17 new chicks from the latest eggs flown in from Russia. Once the flock at Slimbridge is large enough, we hope to have enough breeding pairs to return eggs to Russia, hatch them and release birds back into the wild. Our team at Slimbridge is now working round the clock to provide the chicks with the specialist care they need to ensure their best chance of survival. Through this work we aim to provide a safety net in case of extinction in the wild, as we desperately need time to combat the causes of decline. We will be working locally to protect the wetland habitats the birds rely on, and to help communities find alternatives to hunting waterbirds. Without the work carried out by our team time would run out.
Our team has the passion and the unique mix of skills needed to save this extraordinary little bird, but as a charity we desperately need your help to ensure we can continue this vital work in the UK and in Russia.
We have a chance – we think our last – to save this bird from oblivion
The spoon-billed sandpiper conservation breeding programme is a collaboration between WWT, Birds Russia, Moscow Zoo and the RSPB working with colleagues from the BTO, BirdLife International, ArcCona and the Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force.
The project is supported by WWT, RSPB, Darwin Initiative and Save our Species, with additional financial contributions and support from BirdLife International, the East-Asian Australasian Flyway Partnership, the Convention on Migratory Species, Heritage Expeditions, the Australasian Wader Study Group of Birds Australia, the BBC Wildlife Fund, Avios, the Olive Herbert Charitable Trust, the Oriental Bird Club, British Airways Communities & Conservation Scheme, Swarovski Optik and many generous individuals.