Experts Join Forces to Protect the Sooty Falcon

© Nick P. WilliamsBonn/Abu
Dhabi, 11 March 2013
- The Sooty Falcon (Falco
) is a fast, highly agile bird of prey that
feeds on small birds and insects captured in flight. It
is classified as 'Near Threatened' in the IUCN Red List
and is listed in ‘Category 1’ (Globally and
Near Threatened species) of the UNEP/CMS Raptors MOU, primarily
due to suspected population declines.

It breeds in harsh desert and semi-arid
habitats, in and around the Middle East, and spends the
winter on Madagascar, with small numbers remaining along
the South-East littoral zone of Africa.

However, information on the species’
ecology is fragmented and incomplete, particularly about
the migration and wintering periods of its lifecycle. There
is a pressing need to gather more accurate and comprehensive
information on the Sooty Falcon, including about its global
population status and the main threats causing its decline.

The Coordinating Unit (CU) of the Raptors
MOU, in close collaboration with Range States*, specialist
ornithologists and other interested parties, is leading
the development of an International Single Species Action
Plan (ISSAP) for the Sooty Falcon. A highly qualified ornithologist
has been recruited as Coordinator for the ISSAP. Dr. Umberto
Gallo-Orsi, who holds a PhD in Wildlife Management and a
Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine, has been an independent
consultant working for bird conservation for 20 years. He
has extensive experience of the species action planning
process and in coordinating Working Groups at the international

Over the next twelve months, Dr Gallo-Orsi
will work with the CU to establish and coordinate the Sooty
Falcon Working Group; review existing knowledge and published
literature relating to the ecology and conservation of the
Sooty Falcon; develop and maintain an information resource
base; and, prepare a draft Sooty Falcon ISSAP for review
at an Action Planning Workshop expected to take place in
the latter part of 2013.

However, the success of this project will
not be possible without extensive international collaboration
and cooperation with all Range States, specialists and others
interested in this iconic species. A database of contacts
has already been established and further information will
be available soon. In the meantime, anyone interested in
contributing to this important initiative, please contact:

Nick P. Williams, Programme Officer (Birds
of Prey - Raptors), UNEP/CMS Office – Abu Dhabi. Email:
[email protected].

* Sooty Falcon Range States/Territories
include (Signatories to the Raptors MOU are highlighted
in bold): Bahrain, Chad, Djibouti,
Egypt, Eritrea, France (Overseas Territories),
Iran, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar,
Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Niger, Oman,
Pakistan, Palestinian Authority, Qatar,
Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan,
Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic
of Tanzania, Yemen and Zambia.


Last updated on 16 June 2014