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The Endangered Species Foundation is a registered charitable organisation supporting high-priority conservation projects that protect New Zealand’s most vulnerable indigenous species and habitats from extinction. 

Our People

The Endangered Species Foundation is managed and run by a team of part-time staff and volunteers who are passionate about what they do.


All our trustees are volunteers, driven by the urgent need to create much needed change to restore habitats and biodiversity, bring a depth of wisdom and expertise to the Endangered Species Foundation. We are also guided by an advisory group of scientists who volunteer their knowledge and advice, keeping us ahead of the latest research and projects.


Dedicated to protecting our endangered species and habitats, our combined expertise ensures resources are allocated responsibly to where they are needed most to best achieve our goals.

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Meet the dedicated team who work to make a difference for our endangered species. 

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The Endangered Species Foundation has brought together some of New Zealand’s leading science and community representatives to act as an Advisory Group to the Board of Trustees. 

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The trustees who oversee the strategic direction of the Endangered Species oundation.

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Thank you to all our sponsors for collaborating with us on projects and making our work possible.

Our People

Turning things around for endangered species.

The Endangered Species Foundation is a registered charitable organisation supporting high-priority conservation projects that protect New Zealand’s most vulnerable indigenous species and habitats from extinction. 


Aotearoa is famous for its uniqueness and we have a long history of working to protect our natural heritage. But even though considerable effort is being made, it is not enough.


Currently, New Zealand is facing a biodiversity crisis:

  • Over 7,500 species are at risk of extinction

  • Of these, 800 are listed by the Department of Conservation (DOC) as being at a high risk of extinction.

  • Only 25% of these high-risk species are currently able to be actively managed by the DOC

Our vision is to enable long term support for endangered species and to provide a way for all New Zealanders to get involved and make a lasting contribution towards healthy, biodiverse eco-systems here in Aotearoa.

Giving all species the best chance


Aotearoa is world-renowned for its breath-taking landscapes and unique plant and animal species. Beginning with the separation of Zealandia from the ancient landmass of Gondwana more than 80 million years ago, our isolation has guided the evolution of our flora and fauna in remarkable ways.

In the relative absence of mammals (particularly humans), New Zealand’s insects, birds and reptiles evolved to fill new niches and adopt unusual forms. Flightless birds, mouse-sized crickets and water-less frogs are just some examples of this process in action. Today, New Zealand is home to more than 2,000 plants, 200 birds, reptiles and bats, and well over 20,000 insect species that are found nowhere else. ​

The New Zealand of today is very different from what it was before humans arrived; and it will be different again in the future. Our native flora and fauna will eventually adapt to become more resilient to the threats they face. But they need our help. We need to ensure they are given this chance, to give them the time they need to adapt to be able to stand on their own. 

    I applaud the attention that [the Endangered Species Foundation] give to all species - not just the large charismatic birds and mammals, but also the less well known species of invertebrates, fungi, lichens, lizards, plants, amphibians, and even seaweeds. I wish them, and the species they support, all the success they deserve in this innovative project.”

- Dame Jane Goodall

What makes us unique:

  • Unconditional support - Our support is focused on where the need is most urgent, rather than on what has the most public appeal

  • Results oriented - Our funds work at the conservation coalface. We fund projects which make the greatest difference for our biodiversity and which can be sustained into the future

  • Professionally managed - We are a professional organisation, supported by acknowledged experts in their fields

  • Independent - As an independent organisation, projects we fund are not susceptible to a shift in support, we are in it for the long-term.

New Zealand has a number of conservation success stories, including the black robin, kakapo, and saddleback. Right now we need more resources to protect all our endangered species. 

Find out about how we work to prioritise and protect our most endangered species and their habitats.

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The work of the Endangered Species Foundation is supported by a committed and diverse team of staff, trustees, and advisors. Find out more about who we are and how you can get involved. 

"Our unique native species and precious wild places are taonga that we protect today to hand onto our children and grandchildren... By supporting ESFNZ, you can help play your part in conserving our nature for future New Zealanders and protecting what makes our country truly special."

- Lou Sanson, Director General, Department of Conservation

How the Endangered Species Foundation began

The concept of the Endangered Species Foundation of New Zealand was originally conceived 25 years ago when Mike Thorsen and his father Neil Thorsen were discussing how a shortage of funds hampered the conservation of endangered species. Mike went on to work on many endangered species projects around the world, and in 2013 they established the Endangered Species Foundation. You can read more about our founders' vision and achievements here.

We Need Your Support Today!

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