Supporting BirdLife Zimbabwe (BLZ)

Zimbabwe has more than 670 recorded bird species, 10 of which are globally threatened.

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The RSPB's support has been critical to BirdLife Zimbabwe's survival in the turbulent years since 2000. Once Zimbabwe regains economic and political stability, BLZ will be in a strong position to be at the forefront of national bird conservation.
The RSPB has supported BirdLife Zimbabwe since 1999, initially through a contract to research ecotourism experiences in Zimbabwe which might have helped inform actions both for BLZ and elsewhere. However, the political and economic problems in the country rendered this impossible. Since 2000, RSPB has provided core support to the institutional development of BLZ, including assisting to develop a series of Strategic Plans for the organisation.
BLZ's fundamental purpose is to promote the survival of birdlife in Zimbabwe and elsewhere for its intrinsic value, and the enjoyment of future generations. Its major objectives are to conserve birds and their habitats, to increase awareness and enjoyment of birds through education and training and to use and develop a proven and professional base for the research and study of birds and their habitats.
The RSPB has assisted BLZ through funding of its core programme and offering a range of training, institutional development support, technical and managerial advice and joint fundraising. RSPB is committed to continuing to assist BLZ to achieve an effective conservation programme and organisational and financial stability.


  • Enable BLZ to identify and further its own strategic objectives as a bird conservation organisation.
  • Identify and conserve Zimbabwe's Important Bird Areas. Currently 20 are identified.
  • Protect globally threatened and regionally endemic birds. Zimbabwe has 10 globally threatened species.
  • Secure project funding from international and national donors.
  • Manage conservation and development projects.
  • Assist BLZ to continue to develop as an active, membership-based NGO.

Key Dates

  • 1998: Publication of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) of Zimbabwe, as a chapter in the book The IBAs of Southern Africa.
  • 1999: RSPB support commences.
  • 2002: BLZ becomes a full BirdLife International Partner.
  • 2002 (April): Purchase of BLZ office in Harare completed, with funding from Vogelbescherming Nederland (BirdLife Partner in the Netherlands).
  • 2004 (April): BLZ secure $35,000 from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for community conservation of Wattled Crane at Driefontein.
  • 2004: Jensen Foundation provides grant of $20,000 to purchase part of Monavale Vlei, a wet grassland in a Harare suburb.
  • 2005-2007: €30,000 Dutch government grant for work with communities to protect Blue Swallow breeding habitat in the Eastern Highlands.

Planned Work

RSPB is committed to assisting BirdLife Zimbabwe to achieve an effective conservation programme and organisational and financial stability. As such, we envision long-term support, particularly in view of Zimbabwe's political and economic turmoil.


  • Development of organisation from an amateur bird-watching club to a bird conservation organisation with field projects.
  • Increase in paid staff from none in 1999 (entirely volunteer run) to nine in 2008.
  • Increase in annual turnover to more than £70,000 in the same period, despite economic chaos of the country.
  • Around 400 paid-up members in 2008, organised in three active branches:  Matabeland (based in Bulawayo); Mashonaland (based in Harare); and Eastern District (based in Mutare).
  • Active programme of membership activities (birdwalks, outings, talks etc).
  • Regular production of the member newsletter, Babbler, and its distribution in electronic and printed form.
  • Publication of scientific journal, Honeyguide.
  • Publication of directory of IBAs of Zimbabwe, as a chapter in the book The IBAs of Southern Africa.
  • Purchase of BLZ's own headquarters building in Harare.
  • Successful implementation of community conservation projects on two globally threatened species: Wattled Crane (VU) at Driefontein and Blue Swallow (VU) in the Eastern Highlands.
  • Long-running environmental education programme in schools, with funding from Rio Tinto plc.
  • Active branch member projects, eg annual Black Eagle survey in Matopos National Park, conducted by Matabeleland Branch; survey of Swynnerton's Robin (VU) in Eastern Highlands by Eastern Branch.

Species affected (not UK birds)

  • Most of Zimbabwe's 80 recorded species of Palearctic migrant come from countries further east in Europe/Asia.
  • Zimbabwe has over 670 recorded species, of which 450 breed and 10 are globally threatened.



In addition to RSPB's core support, BLZ has successfully raised funds from the following donors:


Coast on a stormy day

Chris Magin

Head of Section Partner Development, International Country Programmes
Tagged with: Country: International Country: Zimbabwe Project status: Ongoing Project types: Education Project types: Organisation development Project types: Site protection Project types: Species protection