Established in 2008, the Birdworld Conservation Fund has raised over £90,000 for conservation projects in the UK and overseas.
We work with multiple NGOs and organisations covering a range of endangered species from owls, penguins and songbirds as well as being involved in breeding programmes for in-situ conservation. We aim to help where we can make a difference for the conservation of species or habitats in trouble. This includes both in-situ and ex-situ actions, as well as encompassing educational elements, through which we hope to influence future decision makers.
No matter how small, every donation goes directly to the projects we support and nothing is taken out. You can currently donate online, or by posting your donation to:
Birdworld Conservation Fund,
Birdworld, Holt Pound,
Farnham, Surrey GU10 4LD
Please do not send cash
Great Bustard Group
Birdworld’s involvement with the Great Bustard group, starting in 2008, whilst this is now complete, it can be considered a conservation success! Over the years Birdworld has helped incubate and hatch 140 eggs from Russia and Spain. Wild chicks are now hatching on Salisbury Plain including two chicks recently spotted with a two-year-old female that was likely hatched at Birdworld’s incubation facilities. The wild populations will now hopefully become self-sustaining with minimal need for further population head starting.
World Owl Trust
In 2017, Birdworld we were delighted to have the opportunity to build the Terry Pratchett Owl Parliament, in conjunction with the World Owl Trust and the Terry Pratchett Foundation. Through this project we have successfully raised 4 Brown wood owl chicks, 2 spectacled owl chicks and 4 white faced owls which have now been returned to the trust, providing a safety net for the species in captivity. The Trust is currently translocating site from the Lake District but continues its conservation of many endangered owl species in the UK and globally.
Located near Alton, HART Wildlife Rescue helps over 1400 injured animals annually. Last year, Birdworld funded the construction of a new aviary to house injured British birds. This new enclosure will help the centre take in more birds, improving welfare standards and has already housed jackdaw and magpie chicks.
Over 2,000 lesser flamingo chicks in Kamfers Dam, South Africa were abandoned in 2019 after low rainfall and high temperatures lead to food shortages. Local rehabilitation centres needed heat lamps, cleaning and feeding equipment and medicine. Birdworld sent an emergency fund to help raise and rehabilitate chicks at SANCCOB. The dam is one of six breeding sites for the species. Rescued chicks were cared for an average of two months, normally fledging at 10-13 weeks old.
Birdworld donates annually to SANCCOB (the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds). The organisation has helped with the rescue, rehabilitation and release of 97,000 ill, injured, abandoned and oiled seabirds since 1968. This includes the Endangered African Penguin and 24 different seabird species. SANCCOB has two centres: Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. Donations also help the organisation contribute to research of seabird populations, nests and habitats as well as supporting local conservation education. Over the years, some of our keepers have partaken in their zookeeper exchange programme, aiding in chick rearing and adult rehabilitation at their Cape Town site.
Our Ongoing Conservation Work
1,700 endangered Cape cormorant chicks were abandoned at Robben Island and Jutten Island, just west of South Africa in the beginning of 2021, potentially due to a lack of food caused by overfishing. The chicks were rescued at a very young age and many in a critical condition. The conservation fund was able to provide funds for this large-scale emergency relief project by SANCCOB to aid in husbandry and veterinary care before the birds eventual re-release. This is the biggest sea bird rescue in the region for 20 years when a major oil spill impacted 20000 African Penguins.
Birdworld currently houses the two related Bank cormorants in our Penguin Beach exhibit.
Santa Cruz Ground Dove
This endangered bird from the Solomon and Vanuatu Islands has been suffering from local volcanic and hurricane activity, with an estimated 15 birds remaining in the wild in 2017. The species also suffers from anthropogenic impacts including invasive plants and animals, domestic animal predation and the pet trade. The Birdworld Conservation Fund has helped fund the compensation of legal wildlife traders for 113 wild caught birds. Funding has also helped provide veterinary care and will continue to offer husbandry support over the next few years. There have already been 23 chicks raised from these individuals which may help to bolster wild populations in the future.
Yellow crested cockatoos, including the distinct Citron crested, are one of Birdworld’s priority breeding programmes. Four aviaries were built in 2018 and 2019 to help provide a suitable and enriching habitat for pairs to live and breed in. Past youngsters raised here have been sent to Dublin and Paignton zoo in the UK and to Chorzow Zoo in Poland as part of a European Endangered Species Breeding Programme. Keeping different subspecies bloodlines unmixed in captivity is vital to maintaining populations which are more consistent with wild populations.
In-situ wildlife conservation methods need to be continually evaluated to ensure they are the most efficient. Research by Steklenbosch Uni in South Africa funded by Birdworld has been looking into whether artificial nest box materials bolster or reduce biting insect populations. Numbers of mosquitos, midges and ticks if higher in artificial nests, could lead to higher mortality rates in African penguin chicks due to increased exposure to blood borne diseases. This is essential research to ensure that artificial nest sites provided have a positive impact on the population.
Silent Forest Campaign
The Southeast Asian songbird crisis involves thousands of passerines taken from the wild to be used in singing competitions, with large prize funds available. The EAZA Silent Forest Campaign involves breeding birds in captivity, raising awareness of the threats they face as well as providing in situ conservation measures. Birdworld has built 7 new aviaries in 2018 designed to house Bali Myna, Laughing Thrushes, White-Rumped Shama, Sumatran laughing thrush as well as many other species commonly impacted by the illegal trade. So far, we have had 7 fledglings and hope to build on this success. With every new individual, it strengthens the safety net population for potential future release once poaching and habitat loss threats are lessened and allows us to tell the sad story to our many visitors.
At the beginning of May 2020, 20 Hill Mynahs were brought to Birdworld after being confiscated from the illegal pet trade across Europe. Keepers took various measurements including head, beak, tail, leg and wing lengths as well as taking feather samples for DNA analysis. This will help us ascertain potential differences in subspecies as their exact origins are unknown and there are many different types. Two pairs have now been established in the park for breeding purposes.
Endemic to Mauritius, upland evergreen forest, the pink pigeon has suffered from habitat destruction and introduced predators. With only 10 individuals remaining in 1991, the European Zoo Association captive population now holds over 100 birds. The success of this captive breeding has led to the species being downlisted to Vulnerable in 2018. Birdworld has so far bred 9 chicks that will go off to other zoos across Europe and future chicks reared will hopefully be selected for rerelease into its native forests.
Breeding Programmes / Priorities
One of the most important roles of any zoo is their captive breeding programmes. These provide a safety net population for species that are currently facing a range of environmental and anthropogenic threats. If large enough populations with adequate genetic diversity are achieved, these populations can be utilised to reintroduce and/or supplement wild populations where they have historically been found. Endangered species where Birdworld has had success in breeding include;
- Black-cheeked Lovebird
- Mitchell's Lorikeet
- African Penguin
- Humboldt Penguin
- Pink Pigeon
- Yellow-crested Cockatoo
- Luzon bleeding-heart Dove
- Waldrapp Ibis
On Site/Local Conservation
We encourage local wildlife to our site with woodland areas, wildlife-friendly ponds, hibernaculum, log piles and bird boxes. We have also been involved in the “Grab that gap” initiative.
Our Education department have been undertaking moth trapping in conjunction the Rothamsted Moth Trap Project, which started in 1964, making it one of the longest running monitoring surveys of its kind in the world, feeding into research covering population environmental use changes and climate change. Bats can also be seen roosting around Birdworld. Soprano Pipistrelle bats have been identified flying around site at dusk and dawn using Bat detectors, and we hope to confirm other species on site through regular surveying.
Two new owl boxes have been put up this year on site as there are known populations of Tawny Owls in Alice Holt Forest and any potential nesting activity will be monitored. Many of the on-site passerine nest boxes located around the park have successful fledglings of blue tits and great tits annually. The site also has a population of fire and gold crests which are commonly seen in conifers opposite the keepers’ yard and safari lawn. Our wildlife garden is topped up daily with bird seed to bolster population numbers, giving visitors a chance to see native species up close. Keep an eye out for sparrow hawks hunting the local pigeons as these often make an appearance on quieter days.
Helping the Environment
Birdworld is working hard to improve the way we manage our site to reduce negative environmental impacts and enhance the site for native flora and fauna. The company has been part of the Green Tourism programme since 2004 and we are continually trying to come up with and implement more sustainable and environmentally friendly ways to run the park. We demonstrate green ideas to visitors with signs around the site on how to protect the environment and conserve local wildlife, aiming to promote positive behaviour for both visitors as well as our staff.
As a business, we are committed to reducing plastic usage on site and encourage staff and visitors to reduce single-use plastic usage. Our aim is to reduce waste produced, recycle products we can and reduce waste sent to landfill. We recycle paper, card, plastics, batteries, scrap metals, ink cartridges, cooking oil and have several recycling bins around the park for visitors. Birdworld are currently in talks with Coca Cola for supplying more recycling bins, making it easier for visitors to recycle cans and bottles. Recycling and landfill waste are compressed for transport and food waste from both the keeping and kitchen departments are taken off site for composting whilst garden waste is composted on site and reused across the gardens.
We are trying to continually address food packaging waste and have recently removed small plastic packaged sachets of sauce available to customers, instead opting to use paper pots. Compostable “Vegware” packaging is now being used in all catering outlets for takeaway hot foods, including cutlery, coffee cups and straws. Our catering facilities encourage visitors to reduce waste, offering money off hot drinks if they use their own reusable cup. Reusable coffee cups as well as material bags are also available to buy in Birdworld’s shops. The plastic containers containing mealworms to feed our birds are also made of biodegradable materials, these can be recycled in certain bins on site.
We aim to promote organic, local and seasonal products in our shops and cafes. We also cater for a range of dietary requirements including offering vegan ice creams and organic, gluten free soup. We are working towards ensuring that only sustainable palm oil is used in food for visitors, animal feed and cleaning products, ensuring that ingredients we use do not conflict with our conservation policies. Other examples include “Walls” ice cream which uses sustainable products, hot dogs produced locally by Dingley Dell promote high standards of animal welfare and selling only MSC certified fish.
Birdworld encourages visitors to utilise public transport to get to the park, with a bus stop outside the main carpark and cycle racks available for visitors.
We have installed solar panelling next door in Forest Lodge, which are used to heat and light the buildings; these also help to reduce our energy output.
We are reducing the amount of water we use through improved management, fixing leaks and collecting rainwater into water butts across site.
We are currently looking into more environmentally friendly cleaning products as well as putting pressure on suppliers for stuffed toys and other items sold in our shop to reduce the packaging used in transport and production. We welcome feedback from visitors as to other ways in which we could diversity our products whilst becoming more environmentally friendly and sustainable in doing so.