The Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) is a large and spectacular bird of prey. Due to its prowess as a hunter, it has been prized by humans for centuries, particularly by falconers in the Gulf Region. Over recent decades wild populations of the Saker Falcon have declined dramatically. So much so that at the 10th Conference of Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS), held in November 2011 at Bergen in Norway, the species was uplisted to Appendix I of the Convention, and a dedicated Saker Falcon Task Force was established under the auspices of the Raptors MoU (see CMS Resolution 10.28).
The mission of the Saker Falcon Task Force (STF) is to bring together Range States, Partners and interested parties, to develop a coordinated Global Action Plan, including a management and monitoring system, to conserve the Saker Falcon. The 1st Meeting of the STF (STF1) was held in March 2012 at which a detailed Work Plan for 2012-14 was developed. The 2nd Meeting of the STF was held in September 2013.
The STF comprises over 40 specialists, respresenting more than 20 countries. It is currently operating by means of four Working Groups considering the following topics: International Policies and Legislation; Knowledge Gaps; Sustainable Use; and, Fieldwork. The Working Groups were focused to prepare background material to inform the 1st Draft of the Saker Falcon Global Action Plan (Saker GAP) in advance of a Stakeholders’ Action Planning Workshop, held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 9–11 September 2013.
The STF offers a unique opportunity to harness the skills and experience of all the key stakeholders to work towards the shared goal of ensuring the long-term conservation of the species’ wild populations, whilst at the same time developing ways to enable sustainable use of Sakers for traditional falconry purposes.
The Coordinating Unit of the Raptors MoU wishes to acknowledge the funding and support received for the STF from the European Union, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the CITES Secretariat.