As one of the most threatened groups of birds in the world, urgent action is needed if many species of Galliformes and their habitats are to survive in the wild. Therefore, our strategy involves identifying and carrying out projects that will make a real difference and will reduce the risk of extinction facing the most threatened species. This involves undertaking both field and captive conservation projects. Field conservation projects help to conserve species in the wild and to learn about ecology, biology and behaviour, whereas captive conservation in the form of conservation breeding programmes allow us to ensure that a genetically viable population remains in captivity which can be used for reintroductions or to boost wild populations.
WPA has been involved with many field based conservation projects around the world in the 40 years since it started. Initially, many of these projects were designed to find out where species occurred and what their conservation status was. As our knowledge of status and ecology increased, we became able to promote realistic action to help ensure that species and their habitats survive.
The projects cover many different forms including ecology and biology based projects, habitat surveys, population surveys, social surveys, and community based conservation. WPA funds both short and long-term projects, our longest running project, the Pipar Project, has been running since 1979.
WPA is involved in a number of important captive conservation projects around the world. Conservation breeding programmes provide a vital lifeline to species that are threatened in the wild. Though the European Conservation Breeding Group, we work hard to enable species to be sent back to their countries of origin to help re-establish local populations and further conservation efforts, examples of this include Green peafowl Pavo muticus, Malaysian peacock-pheasant Polyplectron malacense, Mountain peacock-pheasant Polyplectron inopinatum, Satyr tragopan Tragopan satyra and Temminck's tragopan Tragopan temminckii. By ensuring the genetic variation in captive populations, through the use of studbooks, we are able to ensure that a genetically viable population remains in captivity that could be used for release programmes or to add genetic diversity to wild populations.
Through our Captive Breeding Programme, we have supported projects that have successfully released young cheer pheasants Catreus wallichii into the wild in Pakistan where they had previously disappeared, and a project that has released over 500 hazel grouse Tetrastes bonasia in Germany. Both the Conservation Breeding Advisory Group and the European Conservation Breeding Group work to ensure good avicultural practice and to share knowledge, expertise and experience. A collaborative approach and good communication links enables breeders to share knowledge and expertise, and over the years breeders from across the world have helped to train staff at conservation breeding workshops in India, China, Malaysia and Thailand.