IAF Spring News

Official Opening Reception at the IAF Brussels Office

100 people attended this opening reception, including EU officials, IAF and FACE staff and board members, representatives of European Falconry Clubs and H.E.Majed Al Mansouri, our great friend and supporter from the Emirates falconers' Club. The two most important Brussels people to attend were two heads of unit in the Commission, Marita Arvela (Finland) who heads up the Nature Unit and Anne-Theo Seinen, Policy Officer for Biodiversity. Both of these arrived early and stayed late; a very good sign. A very nice personal apology from Commissioner Vella was received (he was in Luxembourg) in which he welcomed IAF to Brussels and wished us success. This is a good communications channel to have opened.

President Adrian Lombard's speech may be seen on this Youtube clip (courtesy of the Falconry Heritage Trust).

The FACE secretariat was very quick in getting up a press release, they did it during the actual reception and we are particularly happy with its content. More photographs appear on our own IAF Facebook 

​FACE and IAF signed a Memorandum of Understanding

PRESS RELEASE FROM FACE, Brussels, 20.4.2015: 

On the 20th of April 2015, FACE President Gilbert de Turckheim and Adrian Lombard, President of the International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey (IAF), signed in Brussels a memorandum of understanding between the two organisations that will strengthen their cooperation in the domain of falconry and sustainable use of renewable resources.

Mr de Turckheim said: “This agreement marks the accomplishment of a long and successful path of cooperation and friendship between our organisations. FACE fosters all sustainable hunting traditions in Europe. It is therefore a great honour to engage with IAF to actively promote falconry, one of the most ancient and fascinating hunting traditions in the world.”

Following the signature ceremony, IAF officially inaugurated its European liaison office in Brussels, which is located in the headquarters of FACE. European nature and animal welfare legislation calls for a professional representation at European level promoting falconry and advocating the work falconers do in terms of conservation of birds of prey.

IAF’s Brussels office, which will be staffed with an Executive Officer, will serve as a permanent contact point for European policy makers and officials in all questions related to the preservation of the ancient art of falconry and the conservation of birds of prey.

Thanks to its international engagement over the course of the last decades IAF has gained substantial knowledge as regards raptor biology and conservation, increasing the perception of falconry and improving the public’s understanding of this unique relationship between man and animal. Preserving this traditional hunting culture involves actively encouraging falconers to engage in practical conservation projects, such as the successful re-establishment of peregrine falcon populations in Europe and saker falcon (Falco cherrug) conservation in its range states. IAF encourages falconry in a context of legal and sustainable use of wildlife.

IAF’s European member organizations have significant concerns regarding the declining numbers of small game, particularly partridge, within Europe. To address this a Working Group of experts and qualified individuals from a range of countries across Europe was  established. Other IAF specialist Working Groups cover such topics as ecological studies, veterinary research, rehabilitation and domestic breeding of falconry raptors.

IAF’ has been successful in gaining the UNESCO recognition of Falconry as intangible human heritage. IAF’s European Office is at Rue Frederic Pelletier, 82, 1030 Brussels.

Ressemitteilung auf deutsch

Communiqué de presse en français

FACE Press Release


  1. Registration for the IAF Council of Delegates Meeting in Posadas, Argentina is open and should be completed online now click for registration form
  2. Attendance is limited to National Delegates and Club Representatives, their official guests (one each), IAF Board and Advisory Committee, members of the hosting clubs, Subscribers and Official Observers by invitation of the IAF President. To subscribe follow this link . Everyone must register online now, click for registration form
  3. Election candidatures will close on the 31st May. Elections will take place for President, Vice-president for Europe, Vice-president for Asia and Vice-president for MENA Region on 6th-7th August in Posadas. Candidates must inform info@iaf.org of their intention to stand and should accompany this with the official nomination of an IAF member organization (normally their club). They should also supply an article on their background and intentions for the future of IAF.
  4. IN ORDER TO VOTE OR TO STAND AS CANDIDATE YOUR CLUB MEMBERSHIP DUES MUST BE UP TO DATE. You may pay them using the PayPal facility on our website, or by IBAN transfer (details on the same page)

The Saker Portal Goes Live

Current global efforts to combat illegal trade in an endangered and high value species, the Saker Falcon, Falco cherrug, have taken a markedly different approach to many other high profile species. Rather than following the route of bans and emphasis on enforcement, the Convention on Migratory Species has an action plan based on sustainable use, trust building among user groups, and engagement of users and communities in monitoring.

The Saker falcon is a species of significant cultural importance to many indigenous people and is utilized by falconers across the whole of its extensive range – from Mongolia to North Africa and from Hungary to Saudi Arabia. It has been used sustainably for Falconry for at least 4,000 year and it may have been one of the first species used in falconry. The significance of the species extends beyond falconers to the communities within the breeding range and migration routes. In these areas, it is a real or potential source of income to trappers and others who can benefit from use of the resource. 

Under the Saker Global Action Plan (GAP), falconers and sustainable use of the species for falconry is at the heart of conservation efforts. This plan incorporates a number of flagship projects. One initiative is aimed at building trust among trappers and falconers. Engagement has brought together a disparate group of parties. The Saker Task Force has combined the biologists of CMS and the Sustainable Use Groups of IUCN with falconers, BirdLife and conservation authorities of the Saker range states. It has fully integrated the falconers into the hunt for a solution to the plight of this species. Further, it has opened dialogue with falconers and authorities in nations which include Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Mongolia, among others. Only the engagement of the falconers could achieve this. IAF is funding and managing the first of the Flagship projects which involves developing of an Internet Portal seeking to engage trappers and users, build trust and develop a system of sustainable use for the species. This portal utilizes popular smart phone technology and is available only in regional languages in order to gain trust.

The Portal went live at the 20th April Official Opening of the IAF Office.

The Portal went live during the 20th April Official Opening of the IAF Office. To view the Portal click the image. To view the questionnaire go to  www.s.sakernet.org

This collaborative approach engaging the falconry community has brought to light other causes for the decline in numbers of this species, principally the devastation of raptors across the breadth of Eurasia through poorly designed or cynically built electricity infrastructure. One study undertaken by falconers (International Wildlife Consultants) demonstrated the killing of 55 Sakers per 10 Km of power line per year. If no one cared about the Saker, who would have recognized this? 

This model of collaborative measures that recognize the potential for sustainable use and engage user communities in addressing wildlife crime offers a powerful and possibly unique model for addressing illegal transnational trade of iconic and high value species. 

Workshop on UNESCO extensions

An important workshop was held in Abu Dhabi on 9th-10th of March. The topic was the extension of the multi-national UNESCO Nomination File for Falconry, and the workshop was held through the great support and generosity of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority and the Emirates Falconers Club.

Present at the workshop were government representatives and experts on Intangible Cultural Heritage from 16 countries of the 18 involved in the new extension of the file.

UNESCO recognized falconry as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity the 16th Novembre 2010 in 11 countries (United Arab Emirates, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Syrian Arab Republic) recognizing the importance of the transmission of this 4.000 years old art of hunting that passes from generation to generation over the millennia and the essential value for the community of falconers to share common values, traditions and practices, forming the basis of a wider cultural heritage, including traditional dress, food, songs, music, poetry and dance.

In December 2012 two more countries, Austria and Hungary, were added to the multi-national file. The purpose of March 2015 workshop was to extend the nomination file to five new nations: Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Germany, Italy and Portugal. UNESCO will vote the extension of the new falconry file in November 2016.

Report on Bern Convention 2nd Meeting of the Special Focal Points Illegal Killing of Birds 24-25 February 2015

Purpose of the Meeting:

At its 30th meeting, in December 2010, the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention concluded that illegal killing of birds is still carried out and in some countries it is a growing phenomenon; the implementation of national legislation is often weak; the issue also involves other aspects like the transit of the killed and captured birds through third countries.The difficulty is to identify the illegally killed species and the need is for countries to co-operate work with conservation NGOs. Illegal mist-netting, lime-sticking, tape-luring, deliberate poisoning (especially of raptors) and illegal shotgun hunting were all under discussion. The results of this meeting have direct relevance to the upcoming  EU overhaul of the Wild Birds Directive.

Attending parties and NGOs:

The term “party” is used here to mean the State that is signatory to the convention and which participates and votes in meetings. Party representatives were all from their national environment ministries: Spain, Hungary, France, Portugal, Macedonia, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Malta, Cyprus, Poland, Italy, Turkey and Georgia. The Bern Convention has a wider remit than just European States and it is usual to see representation from adjacent countries as well as EU States.

NGOs” are non-governmental organizations approved to provide expertise. NGOs are not allowed to vote, but are allowed to speak, to question and to intervene. NGOs strongly influence discussions and are considered a vital part of the Convention. In fact the main presentations here were made by the NGOs. A good NGO speaker can greatly influence the voting.

The NGOs attending here were IAF, CITES, CMS, FACE, Interpol, SEO (which is the Spanish Ornithological Society), RSPB (the UK Ornithological Society) and Birdlife’s European Conservation Officer. The SEO hosted the meetings in the Spanish Ministry of the Environment Building.

The main reasons for an IAF presence: to ensure that anything derogatory said about falconry cannot pass unchallenged; to ensure that a strong distinction is made between “hunting” and “illegal killing”; to speak up for the Tunisian and Black Sea sparrow hawk falconers in discussions concerning the spring quail hunt and to speak up for spring rook hawking in the UK, should that be included in talks.

In fact, there was absolutely nothing said that could be considered anti-falconry during the whole two days. Falconers owe a great debt to our late former president and friend Christian de Coune for the many years he attended Bern Convention meetings, building relationships and adding something new and positive every time.

Cy Griffin, conservation officer of FACE, had a large input. He gave a presentation and chaired a working session. It was very heartening to see that no-where in discussions or paperwork was hunting linked with illegal hunting, the Convention was very careful to use only the term “illegal killing”. This is largely thanks to Cy, who had worked with the secretariat on producing the agenda.

Birdlife itself, in the opening presentation by its European Conservation Office, Willem van den Bossche, in a section on illegal netting of quail and small birds across the southern coat of the Mediterranean, also made the clear distinction between the legal capture of sparrowhawks and sustainable numbers of quail by falconers and the large scale illegal netting which is not sustainable and which is being targeted in the Convention. He specifically mentioned the Tunisian falconers and did not make any adverse comments.

Summary of matters of interest discussed:

Marita Arvela of the Directorate General for the Environment EU; she is involved in Good Use of Derogations, including Article 9 which is used for wildtake and for specialist quarry species. She said that the EU intends to increase its involvement in halting Wildlife Trafficking and that collaboration between stakeholders and authorities is to be improved. She spoke of funding available for training, awareness-raising and networking. We will be following up on this with her over the coming weeks. 

Andreas Andreou, Criminal Intelligence Officer, INTERPOL, gave a presentation on databases, tools and mechanisms available to police for combating illegal killing of birds.

Cy Griffin, Director of Conservation, FACE, gave a presentation “The perspective from the hunting community and ongoing action”. This was mainly what may be seen on their web page http://face.eu/nature-conservation

András Schmidt of the Hungarian Environment Agency gave a PowerPoint ofa  Life Grant funded project for Imperial Eagles in Hungary (nine partner organizations) with respect to illegal poisoning by agricultural and shooting interests since 2000, showing methods used to capture habitual criminals, including plotting incidents and DNA testing of cadavers to find the areas most likely to be targeted. 

Bob Elliot, Head of investigations, RSPB, chaired a workshop on the identification of areas of offending and tools for for recording wildlife cases and statistical evidence. He stated that raptor poisoning by shooters and pigeon fanciers is a source of much worry, 

The most interesting part of the workshop was a presentation by:

Pavla Rihova, Head of CITES Department, Czech Environmental Inspectorate, who spoke eloquently on DNA analysis as a tool for combating wildlife crime. DNA analysis is also being used to determine parentage of laundered wild-specimens i.e., false CITES Certs. It has even resulted in a prosecutions when suspected eagle poisoners did not wash their jackets.

These were the principle presentations of direct interest to IAF and to falconers. The other presentations may be found in the official report of the meeting, which can be accessed here when it has finally been completed by the Bern Convention Secretariat. http://www.coe.int/t/dg4/cultureheritage/nature/Bern/Birds/Meeting_022015_en.asp

I also chatted to the environment agency representatives of all the State parties mentioned above (section 2), including asking how they got on with their national falconry clubs. All of them knew the names of their national IAF Delegates and mentioned them before I did. All these contacts and their email addresses the IAF contact lists for future reference.

Gary Timbrell, EO for IAF

IAF will now be accepting advertizing in its publications

Every person who attended the Official Opening of the IAF Brussels Office was given a pair of traditional Lahore falconry bells as a memento. The corridors of power in Europe are ringing this week! SKF Rehan kindly donated half of these bells and some other items for VIP gifts and gave IAF a special price on the rest. www.skfrehan.com

Here you could also download official copy of this letter.

International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey