Saker Falcon Task Force Develops Global Action Plan

Saker Falcon  © Andras KovacsAbu Dhabi / Bonn,
23 September
- International experts have taken a major step towards developing a comprehensive plan for the recovery of the endangered Saker Falcon. Over 70 representatives from different governments, nature conservation authorities and NGOs throughout the range of the species participated at the Saker Falcon Task Force - Stakeholders’ Action Planning Meeting held 9 - 11 September in Abu Dhabi. They elaborated the Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) Global Action Plan which covers the conservation threats, challenges they face and the roles and responsibilities for the next steps.

This activity has been made possible by funding in the framework of the Thematic Programme for Environment and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources including Energy (ENRTP) Strategic Cooperation Agreement (SCA) between the European Commission - DG Environment and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The meeting concluded that an adaptive management system for the species will include positive conservation action on the breeding grounds to enhance the population, enhanced monitoring, and a framework for legal harvest of the species.  Information gaps were identified and a research programme is being developed to address them. 

The meeting recognized key threats to the Saker Falcon population, including:

  • Electrocution on poles of medium voltage distribution lines: Stopping electricity grids killing birds will require a major effort from governments and utility companies. International organizations such as CMS have recognised this as one of the top priority issues facing migratory birds today. Efforts are scaling up across the globe to turn governmental decisions into results on the ground. The meeting agreed that the private sector must join the efforts to share the cost and benefits of making our energy infrastructure safe to birds.  Removing the risk of bird electrocution directly reduces unplanned outages, saves repair costs and improves supply to customers.

  • The unsustainable taking of falcons from the wild: The meeting stressed that unsustainable trapping can only be addressed by enhanced cooperation between governments, conservationists, falconers and trappers. The participants agreed to step up international cooperation with all interested parties to boost the efforts in target countries where this problem remains unsolved.

In addition, delegates called for:

  • An online information system to be established about the Saker Falcon to enhance knowledge transfer
  • 10 falcon hospitals to network closely and actively join their conservation efforts
  • 100 Saker falcons (from countries that host breeding pairs) to be tagged and tracked via satellite to better understand their migration patterns
  • 1,000 artificial Saker Falcon nest platforms to be erected in breeding Range States - which will be based on the successful project led by the United Arab Emirates that is being executed in Mongolia - in order to boost numbers of breeding pairs
  • 1 million existing or new electricity poles to be made safe for the Saker falcon across the countries that cover its vast range

The United Arab Emirates through the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), has demonstrated positive results by tackling the issue of a dwindling falcon population by engaging falconers, promoting the network of specialised falcon hospitals and the rigorous training of border control officers and enforcement agencies. Its contributions to conserving this species include

  • Setting up the multi award-winning Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital (ADFH), the largest public falcon hospital in the world, which runs falcon inspection and treatment services, and which manages the long-running Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Programme
  • the Falcon Passport Programme, which is led by the UAE Ministry of Environment & Water, and which was launched to combat the illegal trade in falcons within the region
  • the Saker Falcon Artificial Nesting Programme that EAD is conducting with the government of Mongolia, which includes a capability development programme for local biologists and students in the UAE; and,
  • EAD’s support of the International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC) whose mandate it is to protect bustards against extinction through breeding and careful management of their population.

The Saker Falcon Task Force operates under the auspices of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MOU). The Coordinating Unit of the CMS Raptors MoU is hosted by EAD, on behalf of the Government of the UAE.

For more information please contact:

Nick P. Williams, CMS Secretariat, Coordinating Unit, Raptors MOU, email: nwilliams@cms.int , tel: +971 (0)50 260 5569

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Last updated on 16 June 2014

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