By Binsal Abdul Kader
More than 28,000 falcons have been issued with passports since 2002, a senior official said on Monday.
The Ministry of Environment and Water’s Falcon Passport Programme was launched to combat the illegal trade in falcons in the region, Mohammad Al Bowardi, managing director of the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD), said.
He was delivering the opening speech at a three-day international meeting in Abu Dhabi on the conservation of Saker falcons.
Al Bowardi said the passport scheme helps maintain sustainable falconry practices. It documents the bird’s country of origin, permit number and the date of its last export or import. It lets falcons travel abroad without the need for a permit from Cites (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Cites is an international agreement between governments, which aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
Over the past 20 years the Saker falcon has sadly suffered major population declines, reducing the number of breeding pairs by almost 50 per cent due to various threats such as habitat loss and degradation, as well as other human threats, the official said.
“We are left today with the Saker falcon being classified as globally ‘endangered’ by the IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature) and up-listed to Appendix I of the Convention on Migratory Species in 2011,” he said. More....