Species conservation

Saker falcon

Saker falcon

The Saker Falcon is the biggest falcon found in Bulgaria.
In the past, this used to be one of the most common bird species in the Ludogorie, Dobrudja, and Danube regions, as hundreds, or perhaps thousands of pairs used to breed in the country. Unfortunately, in the mid 20th C, as a result of changed land-use practices, cultivation of pastures, mass use of pesticides, and indiscriminate hunting, the Saker Falcon population declined to only a few dozens of pairs scattered throughout Bulgaria. Today, the situation of the species is even worse – although individuals are seen every year, there is no known breeding pair of Saker Falcons in the country.
The problem is not only habitats destroyed in the past or deteriorated conditions; it is also related to encroachments by falconers and poachers. Unfortunately, although it’s getting more and more difficult to find these magnificent birds in the wild, they are still found in cages kept by falconers and pseudo nature-lovers. One should not forget that taking chicks from the nests, keeping and breeding Saker Falcons hatched in the wild, is absolutely illegal and prohibited.
At present, a Strategy for Reintroduction of the Saker Falcon in Bulgaria is being developed by the Central Laboratory of General Ecology at the Bulgarian Academy of Science in close cooperation with other nature conservation organizations – Birds of Prey Protection Society, Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna.

What we do

- participate in the development of a Strategy for Reintroduction of the Saker Falcon in Bulgaria together with the Central Laboratory of General Ecology, Birds of Prey Protection Society, and Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna;
- prepare the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Breeding Center at Green Balkans – Stara Zagora for breeding Saker Falcons in captivity, so that their offspring is then released in the wild, as part of the measures envisaged in the Reintroduction Strategy;
- search for Saker Falcon nests in areas, where adult birds are seen, and territories providing suitable habitats for this species – this is done during the numerous expeditions of Green Balkans’ volunteers and experts. Unfortunately, our efforts have not been crowned with success yet!
- study potential sites for settlement of Saker Falcons with suitable living conditions, food base and low level of disturbance;
- study the threats and the limiting factors impeding the distribution and stabilization of the Saker Falcon in Bulgaria;
- implement information and education activities – working with students, hunting and fishing societies, and the public.


Results

- The feasibility study for launching a Program for Reintroduction of the Saker Falcon in Bulgaria will be finished in 2008; after that the Program will be started.
- Cooperation has been established between Green Balkans, Central Laboratory of General Ecology, and other Bulgarian and foreign NGOs, to work on the Reintroduction Program;
- There have been several identified places offering suitable conditions for reintroduction of Saker Falcons;
- Green Balkans’ employee took part in a training course at a falcon breeding center of International Wildlife Consultants Ltd. in Wales (UK) to gain practical skills and apply the methods at the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Breeding Center at Green Balkans – Stara Zagora.
- Plan has been prepared, specifying the equipment of the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Breeding Center at Green Balkans – Stara Zagora needed for the development of a program for breeding of falcons in captivity.


How you can help

- By participating in the expeditions for research and conservation of this species; by providing information of any sightings of individuals, as well as information of birds kept in captivity, or any encroachments upon Saker Falcons and other raptors;
- By taking part in the information activities (presentations, dissemination of information and promotion materials);
- By making a donation for the conservation of this rare species - MORE

Our activities related to the conservation of the Saker Falcon are implemented with the financial support of the Central Laboratory of General Ecology, which is coordinating the activities for research and conservation of this species in SE Europe within the Southeast European Saker Network (SESN). The project is funded by International Wildlife Consultants (IWC) (on behalf of the Environmental Agency of Abu Dhabi (EAD) and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES).
Feasibility study for the reintroduction of Saker falcon in Bulgaria 3 Mb (pdf) download