EAD supports wild Saker Falcon nesting project in Mongolia

WAM Abu Dhabi, August 29th, 2010 (WAM) -- The Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi (EAD) is working on an innovative project with the Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism (MNET) in Mongolia on an artificial nesting programme aimed at increasing the wild Saker falcon population.
The process of placing 5,000 artificial nests has begun, all of which are predicted to provide nesting sites for up to 500 pairs of Sakers by the year 2015.
This project is being funded by the Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi (EAD), and resourced by International Wildlife Consultants (IWC) and their Mongolian partner, the Wildlife Science and Conservation Center (WSCC).
Since October 2009, a team of students and 16 workers in Mongolia have been constructing and placing nests in 20 different areas throughout the country. By the end of October 2010, 5,000 artificial nests will be placed within a 25,000km area, with each nest lying 1.5km apart.
"EAD is leading global efforts to save one of the world's most endangered falcons whose population has dwindled globally to a mere 2000-5000 pairs. This innovative project with Mongolia's MNET will result in a significant rise in the species' population. Together with commitment from the Mongolian government, we are achieving our common vision of preserving this endangered species and important symbol of Emirati heritage," said Majid Al Mansouri, Secretary General of EAD.

Locally known as Hurr, meaning free, this species is the second largest falcon in the world and one of the toughest. They are the most well suited falcon to Arab Falconry due to their adaptability to desert climates and their resilience. Their willingness to engage in ground combat with their prey makes for a fierce and reliable hunter.
Several of the artificial nests placed has even been fitted with a nest camera which records continuously, with the aim of establishing how many Brandt's Voles and Mongolia Gerbils are eaten by Saker falcons and their young. This information could be given to herdsmen so they can see for themselves how the increased numbers of birds of prey can improve the degraded Mongolian Steppe.
Molecular evidence indicates that the Saker Falcon is very closely related to the Gyr falcon and that these species probably diverged from a common ancestor 130 to 200 thousand years ago. The Saker Falcon is predominantly a bird of open landscapes, occupying a diverse range of habitats from agricultural land, steppe, deserts and semi-deserts and mountains. Saker Falcons are the most commonly used raptor by Arab falconers.


Source:The Emirates News Agency, WAM, (Wakalat Anba'a al-Emarat)
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