- Raptors Memorandum of Understanding - updating recent achievements

IAF is Co-operating Partner to the UNEP/CMS Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MoU). The MoU has more than 40 Signatories and 3 Co-operating Partners. Its overall aim  is to promote interntionally coordinated actions to achieve and maintain the favourable conservation status of migratory birds of prey throughout their range in the African-Eurasian region and to reverse their decline. IAF attends and monitors all this from the falconer's point of view.

During 2013 IAF was present at the Stakeholders Workshop and Conference of Parties; we were active in the Saker Task Force and present at the Technical Advisory Group to which Fernando Feas (our nominee) was elected. We have a right to send our representative as observer, at our own cost, if we think it necessary. Here is the most recent report from Nick Williams, Programme Officer - Birds of Prey (Raptors)

Technical Advisory Group - The 1st meeting of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG1) to the Raptors MoU will be held from 20-23 January 2014 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The CMS Notification is available.  Please click here for more details.

Saker Falcon Task Force (STF) - Further to the successful STF Stakeholders’ Action Planning Workshop and 2nd Saker Falcon Task Force Meeting (STF2) held from 9-12 September 2013 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, the online publication of the Reports for both gatherings are announced.  Please click here to access the STF Workshop Report and here to access STF2 Report.  Please note that the 2nd draft of the Saker Falcon Global Action Plan (SakerGAP) will follow shortly.

Amur Falcons in Nagaland – No doubt many readers will remember the graphic video images of Amur Falcons being harvested on a large scale in Nagaland, NE India last year.  Earlier last month, the Raptor MoU undertook a joint technical mission with a representative of the Wildlife Institute of India, accompanied by two ornithologists from Hungary to Nagaland.  The aims of the mission were to fit satellite tags to three Amur Falcons in order to track their amazing migration journey; to better understand their behavior and ecology; to raise awareness of the international importance of the stopover site in Nagaland; and, to demonstrate the value and effectiveness of international collaborative actions.  The mission achieved all of its aims and over 1 million Amur Falcons were counted at the roost site – the largest concentration of raptors ever recorded anywhere in the world.  Most importantly, the Indian authorities, led by the Nagaland Forest Department and working closely with local communities, have succeeded in preventing any falcon harvest this year.  You can follow the journeys of the three tagged falcons here.

African Raptor DataBank (ARDB) – This project aims to utilize citizen science to gather observations to reveal the status of raptors and their habitats throughout Africa.  The Coordinating Unit has just entered into an agreement with ARDB to develop free smartphone applications (Apps) for Android and iPHone to enable users to capture records even when offline.  All Signatories, particularly those in Africa, are invited to promote this initiative, including via NGOs, in order to encourage birdwatchers, naturalists and others, including visitors, to share their observations of raptors across Africa via the ARDB platform.  More details on the project can be found here.

SCIENCE FIRST - recommendation by science based NGO's on EU Invasive Alien Species legislation

Invasive Alien Species are considered responsible for damage to biodiversity, ecosystem services, economies and human well-being to an estimated cost of more than 12 billion euro yearly in the EU.  The IUCN reports that a group of 235 individual experts and organisations from 36 countries, including 23 EU Member States, published a joint statement calling on the European institutions to adopt a science-based approach for the EU-wide legislation on invasive alien species. The Call was coordinated jointly by BirdLife Europe, IUCN European Union Representative Office and Neobiota. 

The Joint Call for a science-based approach on the already existing proposal for regulation  was signed by representatives of universities, research institutes and conservation organisations, uniting leading experts on invasive alien species in Europe and beyond. The signatories welcome the important step taken by the Commission  and recognise that a coordinated international framework is essential for effective action at EU and national levels.

However, they believe that strategies and policies on invasive alien species should be guided by the latest knowledge to ensure that action is taken where most needed.

IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, of which IAF is a member organization, is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organisation with more than 1,200 government and NGO members and almost 11,000 volunteer experts in some 160 countries. The EU Representative Office coordinates IUCN’s work towards the EU institutions. NEOBIOTA, the European Group on Biological Invasions, is a consortium of scientists and environmental managers aiming to enhance integration of invasion research and strengthen approaches to counteract negative effects of introduced organisms on biodiversity, ecosystem services and human health. It publishes ‘NeoBiota’, a peer-reviewed, open-access, online journal covering research on alien species and biological invasions. 

Despite earlier fears that the whole issue was a political one with little scientific basis, this all now seems to be moving in the right direction i.e. legislation proposed on evidence rather than politics. This strong voice from the scientists within NGOs has really helped. Of note is that the European Commission has proposed legislation which proposes a list of 50 invasive species, capped for 5 years.  They also call on member states to be active in preventing invasive species.  It will require enormous resources to deal with even 50 invasive species that are already well established in Europe so the list is unlikely to grow.  The call for this to be science-based must be welcomed. 

The call for member states to be active in the prevention of introduction of invasive alien species is important to falconers.  In keeping with the terms of the Code of Conduct for Hunting with respect to Invasive Alien Species, which was accepted at the recent Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention, where the IAF was also represented,falconers are obliged to ensure that there is no risk from falconry birds and that there is no reason for member states to apply preventative action against us.

IAF has been closely monitoring these developments with representatives of European Falconry clubs who have joined together to subscribe to a professional monitoring organization. The next important IAS Meeting will be in Brussels on 17th December.  IAF will have a physical presence there.  Others who are interested may follow though the web-streaming link .

IAF has been closely monitoring these developments with representatives of European Falconry clubs who have joined togerther to subscribe to a professional monitoring organization. The next important IAS Meeting will be in Brussels on 17th December.  IAF will have a physical presence there.  Others who are interested may follow though the web-streaming link .

The Challenges of Flying hybrids and Exotics for Falconry - an IAF Code of Conduct

Despite studies so far demonstrating no evidence for an IAS issue from falconry, it is important that falconers take responsibility to ensure that no ex-falconry species ever does become established. On top of these, is the responsibility arising from a primary duty of care by falconers to their birds through the prevention of loss. The responsible Falconry Community will not tolerate failures of the duty of care we have to our birds. Therefore, to even further minimise any risk that exotic species or hybrids could potentially pose to the name of responsible falconry through the Invasive Alien Species issue, IAF recommends that affiliated Falconry Clubs should formally adopt this code of conduct when their members fly exotic species or hybrids:

1. No hybrids or exotics should ever be deliberately released to the wild
2. Modern functioning telemetry should be used when any hybrid or exotic species is flown
3. IAF will manage an online reporting scheme so that any incidents of ex-falconry hybrids or exotics can be recorded attempting to establish or breed in the wild

This code will be presented to the IAF Council of Delegates at its meeting in Doha at the end of January for discussion and a vote. Its intention is to allow falconers to monitor the IAS issue effectively and transparently, while further minimising any poor publicity created by lost falconry birds. With this in mind, it is important to know what the proposed legislation involves and the motivations behind it. 

Post-doctoral research, University of Cape Town

Project: Analysis of expanding urban raptor populations using long-term data sets. Applications have been invited for the above research opportunity at the FitzPatrick Institute, a world-renowned, national Centre of Excellence (CoE) in ornithological research with a strong emphasis on postgraduate studies. Two long-term raptor studies have been carried out on the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. Firstly, a 25-year study of the Peregrine Falcons (1989-ongoing) by Dr Andrew Jenkins and secondly, a 13-year monitoring study of the Black Sparrowhawks principally collected by Ann Koeslag. During both studies, populations have increased dramatically (from <10 pairs to 50 pairs over the period of study).

Applicants must have completed their PhD in a relevant subject within the past five years, have strong analytical skills and a good publication record for the current stage of career. To apply,  send a CV (including academic record, publication list & the names and contact details of three referees) plus a short motivation letter and an outline of how you would use these data to answer questions of interest to the your areas of expertise to Hilary Buchanan at hilary.buchanan@uct.ac.za. Informal enquires can be directed to Dr Arjun Amar: www.fitzpatrick.uct.ac.za . For more information on the FitzPatrick Institute visit www.fitzpatrick.uct.ac.za. Closing date: 20th Dec 2013

New IAF Newsletter Published and Available.

On behalf of IAF President, Adrian Lombard and editor Anthony Crosswell, I have the pleasure to send the new  IAF Newsletter 2013 to your club.

Our main publication, the IAF International Journal of Falconry, is more oriented to general issues of falconry, especially culture, history, birds of prey conservation, etc.  The new Newsletter is more about the life of IAF and its member organisations. We would like to encourage you to submit information about your club for future editions of the Newsletter. Please advise your members that they can get copies of the Newsletter through the webstore.  The subscription for the next IAF Journal is also available through the webstore.                Janusz Sielicki