Of Knowledge and Conservation: Finalizing a Plan to Conserve the Vulnerable Sooty Falcon

The Sooty Falcon, Falco concolor, is a medium-sized bird of prey that primarily breeds in the Middle and Near East regions. Little is still known about this long-distance migrant species, as information on its population and ecology is considered largely fragmented and incomplete.

Known to winter in Madagascar and along the southeastern coast of Africa, the Sooty Falcon has been classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species since 2017, owing to its population being considered a single small, declining one.[1] The latest IUCN Red List assessment of the species’ conservation status (2021) further noted that a “Lack of ecological and status data from throughout the year undermines conservation planning and implementation”.[2]

The Sooty Falcon has been listed in Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) since 1979, and under Category I of the Raptors MOU since 2008. Under the Raptors MOU, Category I species are so classified if they are considered Globally Threatened or Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List and the BirdLife International World Bird Database.[3]

Back in 2013, the Coordinating Unit of the Raptors MOU commissioned the development of a draft International Single Species Action Plan (ISSAP) for the Sooty Falcon, also establishing at the time a Sooty Falcon Working Group (SFWG) to support the development of that plan. Constrained resources, however, impeded the developed draft plan from being finalized back then. More recent information collected from breeding locations, nevertheless, suggests that the species may continue to decline.

Aware of the importance of taking this work forward, the Coordinating Unit has recently strengthened efforts to update and finalize the draft ISSAP. A consultant experienced in the development of action plans for the conservation of birds of prey has been recruited to support the Coordinating Unit. The outcomes of the cooperation will culminate with the revitalization of the SFWG, the creation of a library of information on Sooty Falcon, and the delivery of a final ISSAP for the species.

It is hoped that the final ISSAP can become available by the end of 2023.


[1] See BirdLife International (2021). Falco concolor. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021: e.T22696446A180387681. Available at: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22696446/180387681. Accessed 15 September 2022.

[2] Id.

[3] See Raptors MOU, Annex 3 – Action Plan for the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia, paragraph 3.1. Available at: https://www.cms.int/raptors/sites/default/files/basic_page_documents/raptors-mou_annex3_action-plan_e.pdf. Accessed 15 September 2022.

Last updated on 12 January 2024