Mohamed bin Zayed establishes Raptor Conservation Foundation

A new foundation for the conservation of raptors (birds of prey) has been established by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, it has been announced.

The Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Raptor Conservation Foundation has been launched with an endowment of US$20 million. Its first initiative, the allocation of US$1 million as seed money for a project to tackle the major issue of the electrocution of raptors by power lines, was announced earlier today at the ‘Summit for the Flyways’ conference in Abu Dhabi by Mohamed Al Bowardi, Managing Director of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, EAD.

The conference, organised by international conservation organisation BirdLife International, has been hosted by the Abu Dhabi-based International Fund for Houbara Conservation, IFHC, and concludes today.

An announcement of the establishment of the new Foundation noted that: “Electrocution is a major cause of mortality of raptors and other bird species. As the network of power distribution lines grows across the world, the problem is increasing. Technical solutions are available that can remedy the problem, such as hardware designs for new lines and simple remedial work on existing lines.”

“The International Association of Falconry stated that an estimated 4,000 endangered Saker Falcons are killed each year in Central Asia alone due to poorly designed power poles,” the announcement said. It added that a study, funded by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, conducted with the Eastern Energy System power company in Mongolia, showed that 55 Saker falcons per year were electrocuted per 10 kilometres of power-line per year on a test section. The study also reported that electrocution rates could be significantly reduced at a cost of less than €18 per power pole.

“Electrocution of raptors is a conservation priority that requires an international response,” Al Bowardi said. “With the growth of power distribution lines, the problem will only get worse. This is more than just an issue of conservation of birds, it requires governments, regulators and private industry to have a coordinated response as birds are vital in the species chain and an indicator of the health of our planet.”

“To make this a reality His Highness has launched the Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Raptor Conservation Foundation with an endowment and we have committed an initial $1m of seed funding to electrocution projects,” Al Bowardi added. “We are extremely grateful for His Highness’ support in this critical mission. Abu Dhabi has long been a leader in raptor conservation, and this initiative is a further step along the journey to which we are committed.”

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