The Mohamed Bin Zayed Raptor Conservation Fund has successfully tackled the problems of electrocution of raptors from power lines and conserved their habitats, a senior official said.
The Fund was established in April 2018 by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the United Arab Emirates.
CEO Munir Virani highlighted how three flagship projects have supported the conservation and restoration of raptors and their habitats.
Solution for shocks
The first of the projects is based in Mongolia, which has 56 species of birds of prey. While the falcon is the national bird of the United Arab Emirates, the endangered saker falcon is the national bird of Mongolia.
According to a study by the Fund, 20,000 birds in general, including 4,000 Saker Falcons, die each year from power lines that pose a risk of electrocution in Mongolia.
“When birds perch on concrete poles and touch a power cable, they are electrocuted and die,” Virani said.
“Studies done through the Fund have shown that 18,000 birds of prey die every year. The steppe area is flat, so poles are the only roosting site. They roost and are electrocuted.”
The Fund therefore launched the Mongolia Electricity Infrastructure Sanitation Project. A simple, innovative and economical plastic mold was used to insulate the power line and save thousands of birds of prey.
“With a simple design, we were able to prevent the passage of electricity and the birds were not electrocuted. This is real conservation in action,” he said.
The Fund has started the process of rehabilitating 30,000 electricity poles in the steppe areas. So far, he has completed the majority of the project, reducing mortalities by 98% and ensuring the future survival of the iconic falcon as well as other raptors.
Ensure successful conservation
The second project is the Saker Falcon reintroduction program in Bulgaria where the species was considered extinct. Launched in 2015, the program released 80 falcons back into the wild.
“A couple successfully reproduced in the wild and that gave us hope. So over the next five years we plan to release 100 Saker Falcons, ”Virani said.
The third project is the genetic management of captive-bred falcons. The study aims to ensure a founding stock of genetically healthy and representative falcons for release.
To do this, he will assess the origins of the falcons within the program and confirm that they are representative of the beneficiary population. The study ensures the maintenance of diversity within the captive population and the breeding of falcons genetically suitable for release into the wild.
“These programs were carried out by developing partnerships and collaborations. We pride ourselves on ensuring successful conservation results, ”added Virani.