ABC and The Alliance for Zero Extinction

Akekee by Jack Jeffrey

Most U.S. AZE bird species, such as this Akeke'e, are found in Hawai'i. Photo by Jack Jeffrey


The Challenge

Extinction is a natural process, but human activities have led to global extinction rates that are between 100 and 1,000 times higher than those typical of “recent” millennia. Habitat loss, commercial exploitation, disease, and the introduction of invasive species have reduced populations and ranges, and increased the extinction risk for an ever-growing proportion of the approximately 10,000 bird species in the world. Many species are now reduced to one population at a single site, placing them at the front line of the next global extinction crisis.


ABC Conservation Framework

The effort to save AZE bird species throughout the Americas falls under Safeguarding the Rarest in ABC's Conservation Framework
pyramid icon - rarest


Primary Birds Impacted

More than 200 bird species throughout the world have been identified by the Alliance for Zero Extinction as reduced to one remaining site on earth. Of these, 78 are found in the Americas and Caribbean. These include the Blue-billed Curassow, Royal Cinclodes, Marvelous Spatuletail and Santa Marta Parakeet in Latin America,and the Whooping Crane and a number of Hawaiian bird species such as the Palila and Maui Parrotbill in the United States.



ABC is a founding member of the Alliance for Zero Extinction, a joint initiative of 67 biodiversity conservation organizations that aims to prevent species extinctions by identifying and safeguarding key sites, each of which is the last remaining refuge for one or more endangered or critically endangered species. AZE’s goal is to create a frontline of defense against extinction by protecting as many of these sites as possible. Because time is running out, our science must be iterative: it must begin with the crises we know about, and expand its focus as new information emerges on the status of species and their habitats.


To date, AZE has identified 595 sites that each represent the last refuges of 794 of the world's most highly threatened species. 78 of these are bird species in Latin America and the Caribbean.


Even when not triggered by a bird species, important bird conservation objectives can be achieved by conserving AZE sites. For example, Mississippi's Pascagoula River, the AZE site for the Yellow-blotched map turtle, is also an ABC Globally Important Bird Area; and Mexico's El Cielo Biosphere Reserve, selected for the salamander Chiropterotriton cracens, is a key site for the globally threatened Military Macaw. Likewise, conserving AZE sites for bird species benefits many other non-bird species along with key watersheds and unique habitats.

ABC Results

ABC Results Button ABC helped to create the Alliance for Zero Extinction as part of a small group of scientists and conservationists that recognized the critical urgency required to save some of the rarest species on earth.
ABC Results Button ABC was among the leading authors of the initial study that identified 794 species that were each reduced to one last population at one last site. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science: Pinpointing and Preventing Imminent Extinctions; PNAS, December 20,, 2005, vol. 102,, no. 51, pp 18497–18501
ABC Results Button ABC has worked with a number of key partners in Latin America to create the Latin American Bird Reserve Network, which currently has 36 reserves spanning 12 countries and over a quarter million acres. 17 of these reserves protect AZE sites, and provide habitat for 25 of the 78 AZE bird species from the region. Read about some of these projects in the International Programs section of this website
ABC Results Button As a result of ABC’s conservation actions, the Lear’s Macaw was down-graded on the IUCN RedList from Critically Endangered to Endangered.
ABC Results Button In 2009, ABC and its partners successfully worked with the governments of Colombia and Brazil to adopt AZE standards as part of their national criteria for environmental protection.


What's Next?

What Next Button ABC aims to protect a significant population of every endangered bird species in the Americas as a contribution to the future of biodiversity on Earth.
What Next Button ABC will continue to work with governments of other countries throughout Latin America-- including Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Bolivia-- to gain their support for AZE site protection.
What Next Button Ensure that all partners and reserves are self-sustaining to guarantee the continuation of these refuges into the future.

Take Action

Learn more about the Alliance for Zero Extinction and explore the sites and species identified by the Alliance


Support conservation by birding in at the reserves in the Latin American Bird Reserve Network. You can also donate to ABC to help purchase critical habitat for AZE species, manage reserves, and undertake other conservation initiatives to protect the most endangered birds in the Americas.