TN44 Dr Debbie Pain and the Spoon-billed Sandpiper captive breeding programme


If we try conservation breeding and for whatever reason it fails we haven’t affected the world population, if we try it and we succeed we’ve provided the safety-net that could save this species from extinction.” (Debbie Pain, from this podcast)

An extended conversation with conservationist Dr Debbie Pain, Director of Conservation at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, about her and WWT’s role in a remarkable plan to begin the captive conservation breeding in Gloucestershire of one of the world’s rarest birds – the Critically Endangered Spoon-billed Sandpiper, an iconic and rapidly declining shorebird confined entirely to the East Asian Australasian Flyway.

Why is such a plan necessary? The Spoon-billed Sandpiper population is in freefall. With fewer than 120-220 pairs remaining and the population declining at a rate of 26% a year, modelling suggests that immediate action is needed to prevent its imminent extinction.

Photo of Spoon-billed Sandpiper chick copyright Dr Christoph Zockler. Used with permission.


Disclaimer: This podcast has been produced by Talking Naturally to support conservation. No fees or benefits of any kind have been charged or accepted by Talking Naturally. Bandwidth costs for this podcast are sponsored by Digital Spring.


Show Notes

The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) is a leading UK conservation organisation saving wetlands for wildlife and people across the world.

Founded in 1946 by the naturalist and artist, the late Sir Peter Scott, WWT is the only UK charity with a national network of nine specialist wetland visitor centres. With over 60 years experience of wetland conservation, WWT is committed to the protection of wetlands and all that depend on them for survival.


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About the author

Passionate about animal welfare and conservation, veggie and dairy-free, I live in the Wiltshire (UK) countryside. I co-founded Birders Against Wildlife Crime and Birds Korea. Trustee of the League against Cruel Sports On Twitter @charliemoores


  1. Helena Jefferson says:

    What a fascinating talk by Dr. Pain and Charlie Moores. Having met Nigel Jarrett I can confirm that he behaves like an expectant father and is VERY dedicated and I really hope people help WWT to raise the money they need to be successful with this incredible project.

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