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Food security at stake as birds of prey die out.

Abu Dhabi: A bird electrocuted on an electric line or killed by a hunter has implications for food security and disease control. The death of any of 76 threatened species of birds of prey has a direct impact on human lives precisely for these reasons.

Nearly 100 representatives from 40 nations are meeting in Abu Dhabi to discuss conservation efforts under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to conserve this class of birds.

Birds of prey help improve food security by providing a unique range of services that help maintain balance in the ecosystem. Many of them including falcons prey on pests and insects that destroy agriculture. Vultures and other carrion eaters reduce disease by consuming dead animals.

The first meeting of Signatories to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MoU) was officially opened in Abu Dhabi on Sunday and will continue until Tuesday. It is being held under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Convention on Migratory Species.

The overall aim of the meeting is to review the implementation of the action plan contained within the Raptors MoU, and to identify future policies and priorities.

"It is very satisfying to see that this MoU, which became a reality here in Abu Dhabi in 2008, is moving forward," Mohammad Ahmad Al Bowardi, managing director, Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD), said in a speech delivered on his behalf by Dr Shaikha Al Daheri, EAD's executive director of the terrestrial and marine biodiversity sector.

"The birds of prey are particularly important in our culture and our local heritage, and we, with the support of the UAE leadership, have been committed to the preservation and protection of these birds," Al Bowardi said.

Apart from protecting habitats from developmental activities, many other measures such as insulating electric lines and reducing the use of pesticides and insecticides are critical to the conservation of birds of prey.

"Many birds are electrocuted during their migration. Pesticides and insecticides used in agriculture also cause death of birds of prey," said Dr Salim Javed, manager of terrestrial assessment and conservation at EAD. The meeting is discussing all those measures under the MoU.

The MoU signed by 41 countries covers 76 migratory species of birds of prey and owls, which occur in 130 Range States in Africa, Middle East, Europe and Asia.

Increased mortality of birds of prey is reported due to losses associated with human interference such as shooting, poisoning, disturbance, contamination from organochlorines or other pesticides. Human activity also negatively affects breeding of bird species. Unsustainable or illegal capture, particularly for trade, also undermines populations of birds of prey.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Dec 10, 2012
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