The Slender-billed curlew MoU was concluded under
CMS auspices and became effective on 10 September
1994. It aims to safeguard the Slender-billed curlew,
a migratory shorebird that is estimated to have declined
to less than 50 individuals.
The Slender-billed curlew is a medium-sized wader,
one of the six curlews of the same genus living in
the world. It remains a bird whose ecology and biology
(food habits, breeding behaviour, etc) are still unknown.
After the completion of the breeding period in Northwest
Siberia, the Slender-billed curlew migrates over a
distance of 5-6,500 km crossing Southeast Russia and
Southeast Europe to its overwintering grounds in Morocco
and along the Persian Gulf.
The MoU area covers 30 Range States in Southern and
Eastern Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East.
The geographic area stretches from Northwest Siberia
along the Caspian, Black and Mediterranean Seas to
the Canary Islands off shore Morocco. An up to date
list of the MoU’s Signatories is found in its
Agreement Summary Sheet.
The Action Plan
The Action Plan for the Conservation of the Slender-billed
Curlew, prepared by BirdLife International (Council
of Europe, 1996) approved by the European Commission
and endorsed by the Fifth Meeting of the CMS Conference
of the Parties is the main tool for conservation activities
for this extremely uncommon bird.
Conservation priorities include effective legal protection
for the Slender-billed curlew and its look-alikes,
the location of its breeding grounds as well as key
wintering and passage sites, the appropriate protection
and management of its habitat and awareness-rising
amongst politicians, decision-makers and hunters.
This action plan will be transformed into a CMS format,
in order to clarify implementation and to facilitate
the allocation of funds. Signatory States to the MoU
will thus have a balanced and fully operational tool
to provide for the conservation of one of the world’s
rarest bird species.
Activities under the MoU
In early 1996, the CMS Secretariat produced and distributed
a status report on this endangered species. The CMS
Secretariat and BirdLife International have created
a Slender-billed Curlew Working Group jointly, with
the participation of many shorebird experts and representatives
of all Range States. Birdlife International coordinates
the working group and CMS has provided funds to support
The CMS Secretariat has also undertaken efforts to
encourage support-projects for this species in several
of the Range States, and maintains close contact with
various organisations, scientific institutions and
national authorities already involved in such action,
including BirdLife International, the Royal Belgian
Institute for Natural Science, the International Council
for Game and Wildlife Conservation (C.I.C.) and the
Surveys to locate breeding grounds, as well as migration
stopover and wintering sites of the Slender-billed
curlew are carried out with CMS financial support,
the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement
(AEWA), the European Union´s “LIFE Programme”
and other sources. Several expeditions were made to
West Siberia, Iran and Morocco, however neither nesting
sites nor wintering places were discovered.
Conservation activities have already been undertaken
or are under way in Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy,
Morocco, Russian Federation, Ukraine and Iran.
According to the data available at present the population
status of the Slender-billed curlew may have stabilized
at a low level. Monitoring and conservation measures
still remain essential however.