© Mike Watson / Birdquest

Viking Optical throws lifeline to Forest Owlet

Earlier today, at the 2012 British Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water, Main Sponsor Viking Optical – the leading UK importer and distributor of high quality optical equipment – threw a lifeline to another globally threatened bird species when it announced it would extend its support to BirdLife International and help prevent the extinction of a second bird on the knife edge of extinction by becoming BirdLife Species Champion* for the Forest Owlet.

The Forest Owlet is one of the world’s most threatened birds with a range limited to Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh in central India. Considered extinct for 117 years it was only rediscovered in 1997. Now estimated to have a population of fewer than 250 individuals it is categorized as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List and faces severe risk of extinction.

By becoming the owlet’s Species Champion, Viking Optical will provide significant support to help protect the bird by contributing financial support and raising awareness for the conservation efforts coordinated by BirdLife International – the world’s largest partnership of independent, national nature conservation organizations and world authority on bird conservation.

Speaking from Birdfair, Tim Strivens, Sales manager of Viking Optical Ltd. Said “We’re delighted to announce we have become a Species Champion for a second time. Just like the Seychelles-Paradise-flycatcher we’ve been supporting, the Forest Owlet really needs our help and we are very pleased to do this through BirdLife’s outstanding Preventing Extinctions Programme.

Viking Optical has become the first company to support a second Critically Endangered species through this innovative BirdLife programme after first signing up as Species Champion for the African Seychelles Paradise-flycatcher back in 2010.

BirdLife Indian Partner, and official Species Guardian† for Forest Owlet, Bombay Natural History Society, will undertake the conservation project Viking is supporting.

The BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme was launched in August 2007 with the intention of preventing bird extinctions by providing targeted conservation where it is needed most. Already 75 species are benefiting from coordinated conservation action and financial support.

Birdfair are Founding Global Programme Sponsor of the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme and have supported its development with contributions of more than £750,000 since its launch at Birdfair in August 2007.

*BirdLife Species Champions are a growing community of active conservationists who generously support BirdLife by providing vital funding and publicity that enables conservation actions to be undertaken that prevent the extinction of the world’s most threatened birds. BirdLife Species Champions can either be individuals or organizations.

† BirdLife Species Guardians are appointed by BirdLife International and are responsible for providing tangible conservation action on the ground. They are invariably local organizations best placed to undertake long-term action for species through engagement with local communities.