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Indian Government commits to sign raptor conservation agreement

By Ed Parnell, 21 Jan 2016
Raptors such as Amur Falcon could benefit from the new agreement (Image: Ramki Sreenivasan)

India will become the 54th country to sign the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MOU), an important international agreement to protect migratory birds of prey.

Approval to sign the Raptors MOU was given by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a Cabinet meeting held on 30 December 2015. Although legally non-binding, the Raptors MOU –which was concluded under the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) – is an important instrument for the conservation of birds of prey.

“It gives us immense pleasure to congratulate the Prime Minister and Government for making India the 54th signatory to the Raptors MOU. This agreement is a big step forward for the monitoring, research and conservation of migratory species of raptors. We will be honoured if we can assist the Government in meeting India’s obligations under the treaty,” said Deepak Apte, Director of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS, BirdLife in India).

Established in 1883, BNHS is among the oldest conservation organisations in the world, and over the course of its long history has carried out pioneering research and conservation on many birds of prey including South Asia’s critically endangered vultures, and other migratory raptors such as Amur Falcon Falco amurensis.

Although the migratory status of Asia’s vultures is in most cases ambiguous, they are in the process of being included in the Raptors MOU, which will be an important instrument in the fight to save them.

In November 2012, with significant input from BirdLife, the CMS adopted a resolution (Resolution 10.10) which, for the first time, essentially set out a global agenda for conservation along flyways – well-travelled routes used by birds during their migration, which often span continents and oceans. BirdLife also ensured effective resolutions were agreed on a number of key issues affecting raptors including agrochemicals, power lines and renewable energy. BirdLife provided much of the scientific information underpinning the Raptors MOU, which develops guidelines for national strategies for bird of prey conservation, and is working especially closely with the BirdLife’s Migratory Soaring Birds Project.