On 16 May 2001 the Ambassador of the Republic
of Bulgaria in Germany signed the Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU) on the Conservation and Management of the Middle-European
Population of the Great Bustard (Otis tarda).
After Hungary, the FYR of Macedonia, the Republic of Moldova
and Romania, which already signed together with the three
partner organizations in 2000, Bulgaria is the fifth range
state to sign this MoU. As provided in Para. 17, the MoU
now becomes effective on the first day of the month following
the signature of the fifth Range State (1 June 2001).
The Consul General of the Hellenic Republic signed the
memorandum in the name of the Greek government on 22 May
2001. Signatures will be added in the course of the next
few months following the finalization of consultations with
some of the Range States.
The Great Bustard is one of the largest birds capable of
flight, with males weighing up to 17 kg and females up to
8 kg. Although still quite numerous in the Iberian peninsula
and in the Russian Federation, the species has become extinct
or been reduced to vagrant status in parts of its former
range and even where it has managed to survive, its numbers
are counted in dozens rather than hundreds. It is therefore
one of Europe’s most endangered bird species. Despite
their size, the birds have been known to travel quite large
distances; for example, in the severe winter of 1978, the
population in Brandenburg, Germany migrated to the Champagne
region of France and back.
The MoU calls for cooperation among national authorities
to promote the conservation of the species. It demands the
strict protection of the species and the maintenance and
restoration of its habitat. It also includes an Action Plan
with two sections – one of general applicability
and a second listing specific activities appropriate for
each Range State.
As a recent development the authorities of Austria, Hungary
and Slovakia have established a transboundary protected
area in the triangle of the three countries with a coordinated
The UNEP/CMS Secretariat looks forward to the future implementation
of the memorandum.