Telestream has announced that its Wirecast live video streaming software is being used to connect nature lovers and charity supporters to the first ever captive breeding programme of one of the world’s most endangered bird species, the spoon-billed sandpiper. With estimates of the global population numbering less than 150 breeding pairs, UK-based wildlife charity, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) has instigated the world’s only insurance policy against the species’ total extinction.
The tiny birds breed in Russian wetlands and then migrate over 8,000km to wintering sites across South East Asia. But they are subject to illegal trapping in Myanmar and Bangladesh with a catastrophic impact on the population. In the past, WWT has intervened by collecting eggs from the Russian breeding grounds (enabling the birds to lay and rear a second clutch of eggs) and incubating them before releasing them back to the wild. Now, WWT has a protected population of 24 ‘Spoonies’ at its Slimbridge headquarters in the UK. And if they breed successfully, the ‘ark population’ will be a vital lifeline for the survival and future reintroduction of the species should they become extinct in the wild.
Within the next month or so, there’s every chance of a world first for Spoonies: the first generation of captive-bred spoon-billed sandpipers will hatch. In a first for WWT, the charity has instigated a project which provides supporters with unique live views of the breeding programme using Wirecast live streaming production software out to its YouTube channel. Access to the breeding facility has to be very restricted to avoid bringing in pathogens and disturbing the birds. But, producing its own internet-based live stream gives WWT the opportunity to tell the story safely in its own words.
With the support of many celebrities including UK-based TV presenter Kate Humble, who will host the web channel, the Spoonie breeding project is generating significant media interest. WWT will manage the news event, so that the first reveal of success (or failure) is via the live stream. Also, WWT will be blogging and sharing activity on social media in the build up, including teasers for content to be run within the live broadcast. WWT will also be promoting this to specialist audiences around the world. If access to the breeding facility is granted for any news crew at all, then it will be managed so that it’s after the live stream, but can direct people to watch the recordings.