Europe and Central Asia
31 Oct 2017

A view to a kill

By Christopher Sands

In the editorial of this month’s edition of the Europe & Central Asia newsletter, Christopher Sands reflects on BirdLife’s highlights from CMS COP in Manila last week. 


This month our BirdLife International CEO, Patricia Zurita, introduces the release of the second in a scholarly series of reports on the illegal killing and taking of birds. The layman’s review, entitled The Killing 2.0 – A View to a Kill, combines some of the findings of the initial report on the broad Mediterranean region, released 2 years ago, with a look at Northern Europe, Central Europe and the Caucasus. The news is not good. Over 25 million birds across these regions are being illegally killed annually. The Killing 2.0 was released at the 12th Conference of the Parties of the Convention for Migratory Species (CMS COP 12) in Manila last week.

Despite this sobering news, there was a terrific outcome in Manila with the recent adoption of the Vulture Multi-species Action Plan, a single international action plan covering 15 vulture species, many in danger of extinction. Developed by the Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF), BirdLife International, and the IUCN Vulture Specialist Group – following population declines of 95% in Africa and Asia in recent decades – VCF says the plan aims to prevent the further decline of vultures, nature’s primary scavengers, providing indispensable ecological services as carrion feeders and disposers of disease-carrying carcasses.

In Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, the anthropomorphic characters have beguiled child and adult alike for over a century.  He writes, “The past was like a bad dream; the future was all happy holiday as I moved Southwards week by week, easily, lazily, lingering as long as I dared, but always heeding the call!” In this near-perfect evocation of an ideal “migration”, the perils of peregrinations are hidden – no disappearing wetlands, threatening wind farms, criminal poachers or poisoned carcasses to consume. We know better, and we work tirelessly across this range of threats to try to render possible this human dream of a safe, almost effortless fulfilment of a bird’s most elemental instincts.


Christopher Sands - Head of Communciations, Europe & Central Asia



Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe.