Bid to clip wings of illegal trade in falcons for falconry

ABU DHABI - Measures to control the illegal global trade in falcons for falconry and ways to preserve the sport as a deep-rooted heritage in the region were discussed at a four-day global meeting which opened here on Sunday.

By Muawia E. Ibrahim

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Published: Mon 17 May 2004, 9:42 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:24 PM

The consultative meeting on trade in falcons for falconry is being organised by Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Secretariat.

The aim of the meeting is to identify the main problems in controlling the trade in falcons (political, administrative, technical, scientific, enforcement) and to propose practical solutions to these problems. The high-level meeting is also an opportunity for an improved international understanding of the trade-related problems facing falcon conservation.

In the opening address, Saeed Mohammed Al Ragabani, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, said the UAE was hosting the conference to draw attention to the issues related to falconry and to reach a common understanding that would help draw up an effective action plan that would ensure the survival of falcons.

He said the country hosted the first global meeting for falconers from all over the world in 1976. "Since then our belief in the need for joint action to conserve falcons and their natural habitats has become even stronger." "Falconry is one of the deep-rooted sports in the region that has been practised by the UAE people. It is deeply rooted in the history and heritage of the people here. Falconry has been inherited generation after generation, until it reached our hands with all its details and simple features. We endeavour to hand this sport over to our children and grandsons. Therefore, we are very keen that we should not be the reason behind the extinction of falcons on which this sport relies," Mr Ragabani stated.

He said the UAE had taken a series of measures to protect falcons including registration of falcons to regulate their import and export and issued falcons passports to monitor their movement at the local and international levels. He pointed out that since the launch of the passports programme in the beginning of 2002, a total of 4,600 passports have been issued.

Jonathan Barzoa, Chief of Support Unit, CITES Secretariat, thanked the UAE for hosting the meeting and commended the country's measures to conserve falcons, saying that UAE model is unique and should be followed by other countries.

"For many years there has been concern about illegal and unsustainable trade in falcons for falconry. All species of falcons are included in the CITES and the Secretariat of the Convention has, over many years, received information on continuing illegal trade. There is, however, also a significant legitimate trade in falcons for falconry, which is met partly from wild-taken birds and partly from captive-bred birds, mostly of just a small number of species," he said. He said there was a need to address a number of problems in controlling international trade in falcons for falconry.

"The first is that there is a continuing large trade, including illegal ones, from a number of states resulting in a decrease in some populations of certain species used for falconry. The second is that a number of states where there are large numbers of falconers who take their birds across international borders to practise their sport, would like to find ways to facilitate these movements within a legal framework.

"The third is that some of the states into whose territory falconers enter in order to hunt are concerned that the controls on the trade are not adequate and are worried about the potential effects on some of the species hunted.

Finally, there are some concerns that the level of control of captive-breeding operations for falcons in some countries is not adequate and that some operations are used to launder wild-taken birds."

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