Conservation Has No Boundaries



The beautiful Red Footed Falcon - needlessly slaughtered in Cyprus

Here at SOS, we like to take an active role in the conservation and rehabilitation of many different bird of prey species and if you read our diary pages on a regular basis, you may know something of the various rehab events we have been involved with in recent months.

We also like to be aware of what is happening elsewhere and I thought I would take this opportunity to tell you of recent events in Scotland, when conservationists met to discuss the many problems facing raptors in the wild across Europe.

Conservationists from 60 countries attempted to reach an agreement on the best way to protect birds of prey.  Recent research shows that many species are especially vulnerable during migration and would benefit from increased protection while crossing international boundaries. As top predators, birds of prey are sensitive indicators of the condition of the environments they pass through - for instance, how changes in the global climate which can affect wildlife and people.

Michael Russell, Minister for Environment for Scotland, welcomed the delegates by saying: "Scotland is home to the majority of raptors within the UK and I look forward to the development of a new international agreement aimed at conserving migratory birds of prey and owls in Africa and Eurasia."

Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB's Director of Conservation added: "In the UK, illegal persecution of birds of prey remains a continual threat affecting the future of many species, such as the golden eagle and hen harrier."

A variety of human-induced threats are driving declines in migratory birds of prey - for instance, habitat loss & degradation, and electrocution by power lines. Climate change is a further concern, and so is direct persecution in the form of illegal shooting and poisoning.

To highlight this latter point, the RSPB's BirdLife International partners in Cyprus and Malta have between them recorded several incidents of bird of prey persecution in recent weeks, the worst incident being the slaughter of over 50 red-footed falcons migrating across Cyprus.

The UK's Biodiversity Minister Joan Ruddock said: "There is no doubt these magnificent birds are under serious threat... and (our) commitment to their conservation is clear. The Government has brought together experts from around the world to develop an agreement for their conservation."

Commenting ahead of the conference, the RSPB's delegate John O'Sullivan, said:"For those birds of prey that migrate across international boundaries, it's vital that protection and conservation measures are of a high standard in each country, and are well enforced."

The agreement is expected to be finalised at a meeting in the United Arab Emirates sometime next year. For more information go to www.rspb.org.uk