Slender-billed Curlew

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.

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 it.

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 foundation Euronatur.

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.


Title Status Status date CMS Party number Region
Albania MOU Signatory 1995 076 Europe
Algeria Range State 094 Africa
Austria Range State 091 Europe
Bosnia and Herzegovina Range State 126 Europe
Bulgaria MOU Signatory 1995 061 Europe
Croatia MOU Signatory 1995 070 Europe
Cyprus MOU Signatory 1994 077 Europe
Egypt MOU Signatory 1994 001 Africa
European Union Range State 001 Europe
Georgia MOU Signatory 1994 067 Europe
Greece MOU Signatory 1997 062 Europe
Hungary MOU Signatory 1994 001 Europe
Iran MOU Signatory 1995 106 Asia
Iraq Range State 124 Asia
Italy MOU Signatory 2000 001 Europe
Kazakhstan MOU Signatory 1994 097 Asia
Malta Range State 074 Europe
Morocco MOU Signatory 1995 042 Africa
Oman MOU Signatory 1995 AM Asia
Romania MOU Signatory 1994 053 Europe
Instrument nameMemorandum of Understanding concerning Conservation Measures for the Slender-billed Curlew, Numenius tenuirostris
TypeArticle IV(4)
DepositaryNone specified in the MoU (de facto CMS Secretariat)
SignatureOf the 29 Range States (Yugoslavia does not count anymore as a Range State) signed by 18 States and 3 Co-operating Organizations (for details please scroll to 'other' and 'MoU Signatory')
In effectUpon signature of the Range States; open for signature indefinitely, effective for all other signatory States on the first day of the first month following the date on which they sign
Website URL
OtherSigned also by 3 Co-operating organizations: CMS Secretariat (15.12.94), BirdLife International (27.02.95) and the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (12.06.95). Note: The species might also occur irregularly during the migration period, as vagrants, in the following 13 countries (subject to scientific confirmation): ARMENIA, Azerbaijan, FRANCE, ISRAEL, JORDAN, Kuwait, Lebanon, LIBYA, MOLDOVA, SAUDI ARABIA, SLOVENIA, SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC, THE FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA.

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