Illegal Trafficking

Illegal trafficking of birds of prey is a matter of grave concern due to its negative impact on the conservation of affected species. IAF’s position on this is clear: these people are not true falconers, they are poachers and are condemned in the strongest terms. IAF takes a particular interest in stamping out illegal trafficking of birds and sits on the panel for the Bern Convention Special Focus Points for the Illegal killing, Trapping and Trade of Wil d Birds. One species particularly affected by illegal trafficking, and that IAF is working to protect, is Bonelli’s eagle (Aquila fasciata).

Bonelli's eagle Each Spring, chicks in Sicilian nests of the Bonelli's eagle become subject to robbery by criminals. The Bonelli’s eagle is endangered in Europe and Sicily represents one of the most important strongholds with some 39 active nests. Illegal wildlife traffickers and poaching gangs put the survival of this species at risk for mere economic gain, selling to unscrupulous animal collectors and wreaking irreparable damage on the species. These birds are then sold with fake CITES documents to unsuspecting buyers abroad.

Genuine falconers have nothing to do with the illegal trade and are ready to combat such unlawful and unacceptable crimes. The International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey has been in dialogue with the authorities and with other conservation groups since 2013 and proposes that, alongside strict monitoring, we need to identify the traffickers and the recipients of these protected species. This will require effective collaboration between falconers, conservation volunteers and publi c wildlife authorities. Every national falconry club in Europe already subscribes to IAF’s codes of ethics and conduct.

IAF is in the process of creating a Breeders Register where legitimate breeders of raptors, and particularly breeders of species of greatest concern such as Bonelli’s eagle, may register data on their breeding pairs, ring number or chip identification and CITES documents. This register will also hold genetic material of species subject to wildlife crime for secure banking a nd for DNA analysis (a widely-used tool for combatting wildlife crime). Falconers will be encouraged to buy their birds from genuine breeders who are registered in this way.

No time must be lost; the population of Bonelli’s Eagle is so fragile. The same attention must also be given to the last Egyptian vultures in Sicily and the most important European population of the lanner falcon. We need the determination to defend protected species, to stamp our illegal trafficking permanently and to prevent the disgrace of the good name of falconers.


IAF Takes Part in the International Task Force on Illegal killing of Birds in the Mediterranean

- “Hunters are part of the solution to addressing illegal killing in the Mediterranean” -

Task Force on Illegal killing of Birds in the MediterraneanThe illegal killing and trapping of birds is a problem both for species conservation and for the reputation of the many legitimate and legal users of migratory bird populations. The Mediterranean region is particularly vulnerable to the illegal taking of birds on migration due to the fact that it is a major thoroughfare for birds that breed in Europe and winter in sub-Saharan Africa, and it is estimated that more than 20 million birds are lost each year in this region. As a result of this, from the 12th to 15th July 2016, IAF took part in the first meeting of the new International Task Force on Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade of Migratory Birds in the Mediterranean, held in Cairo. This task force is run by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) in conjunction with the Raptors Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The Task Force was created to facilitate international cooperation through the exchange of information, training, law enforcement, and deterrence methods to reduce the mortality rate amongst migratory birds. It will focus on the implementation of existing guidelines and action plans for the eradication of illegal killing, taking and trade of birds. It does this through involving the relevant communities in the process and IAF is pleased to be part of this process and to contribute to this important cause. IAF is also pleased to see that the Task Force includes stakeholders involved in sustainable use; as was said at the meeting in Cairo, “hunters are part of the solution to addressing illegal killing in the Mediterranean”.

As part of its involvement with the Task Force, IAF is working with a range of conservation and falconry-related organisations to engage illegal trappers and to reduce the impact of illegal trapping and trade on migratory species. These organisations include the Raptor Club of Egypt, Conservation Egypt and the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency. IAF will continue to work with the Task Force and with its members to eradicate the illegal trapping and trade of birds, and will keep its members informed of all future activity.