of prey (raptors) face a variety of human-induced
threats such as habitat loss and degradation, illegal
shooting and poisoning, collisions with aerial structures
and electrocution by power lines. Climate change
may further add to these problems. Migratory raptors
are particularly at risk due to the often long and
arduous annual journeys from their breeding grounds
to wintering areas and back. Moreover, some
species either migrate in large groups or form major
concentrations along their flyways, for example,
at narrow land bridges or sea crossings, which enhance
the potential impact of some threats.
2004 © Nick P. Williams
In 2005, a year-long study commissioned by the United Kingdom (UK) Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) found that more than 50% of migratory birds of prey populations in the African-Eurasian region were in poor conservation status, and many species were showing rapid or long-term declines. The Defra study was prompted by Resolution 3 of the 6th World Conference on Birds of Prey and Owls, held two years earlier in Budapest, Hungary.
Development of the international instrument under CMS
UK presented the results of the Defra study to the
8th Conference of Parties (COP8) to the Convention
on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wildlife
Animals (CMS), held at Nairobi, Kenya in November
Resolution 8.12 was adopted by COP8,
which urged Parties to explore whether the development
of a CMS instrument would assist in promoting the
conservation of African-Eurasian migratory birds
of prey. The Governments of the United Arab
Emirates (UAE) and the UK jointly led an initiative
to act on this Resolution.
Osprey 2003 © Nick P.
A meeting to identify and elaborate an option for international cooperation on African-Eurasian migratory raptors under CMS was held in Loch Lomond, Scotland, on 22-25 October 2007. It was co-sponsored by the Defra, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) and CMS. The Scottish Executive hosted the event in conjunction with the UK Government.
2003 © Nick P. Williams
Good progress was made which led to a second meeting of Range States being convened. The aim of this meeting was to negotiate and conclude a Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (now referred to as the ’Raptors MoU’). It was held in Abu Dhabi, UAE on 20-22 October 2008 and hosted by EAD and co-sponsored by Defra. The meeting was a success and the Raptors MoU was concluded and was signed by 28 Range States on 22 October 2008. It came into effect on 1 November 2008.
The Raptors MoU extends its coverage to 76 species
of birds of prey and owls, which occur in 132 Range
States and Territories. It has 43 Signatories
(as of 15 June 2013) comprising 42 Range States
and the European Union. There are also three
Co-operating Partners that have signed the Raptors
MoU – CMS Secretariat, BirdLife International
and the International Association for Falconry and
Conservation of Birds of Prey.
A summary sheet on the Raptors MoU can be found here.
Due to the generous support of EAD, on behalf of the Government of the UAE, an Interim Coordinating Unit (ICU) was established in 2009, as a key component of a new UNEP/CMS Office in Abu Dhabi.
The 1st Meeting of Signatories (MoS1) was held
from 9-11 December 2012 in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
The Coordinating Unit (CU) of the Raptors MoU was
established within the UNEP/CMS Office - Abu Dhabi
during this meeting. Full details are available
The Raptors MoU and Action Plan
The overall aim of the Raptors MoU is to promote internationally coordinated actions to achieve and maintain the favourable conservation status of migratory birds of prey throughout their range in the African-Eurasian region, and to reverse their decline when and where appropriate.
An Action Plan is included in the text of the Raptors MoU with the following key objectives:
- To halt and reverse the population declines of globally threatened (Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable) and Near Threatened birds of prey and ot alleviate threats to them such that they are no longer globally threatened or Near Threatened;
- To halt and reverse the population declines of other birds of prey with an Unfavourable Conservation Status within Africa and Eurasia and alleviate threats in order to return their populations to Favourable Conservation Status;
- To anticipate, reduce and avoid potential and new threats to all bird of prey species, especially to prevent the populations of any species undergoing long-term decline.
Signatories to the Raptors MoU commit to adopting and implementing measures to conserve migratory birds of prey and their habitats, for example, by providing a legal framework to protect migratory species and a network of habitats and sites along their flyways; identifying important habitats, congregation sites and favoured routes; supporting relevant research and monitoring of populations, sharing results internationally; and, developing cooperative international projects and initiatives to promote effective conservation efforts.