New CITES Guide to prevent illegal trade in falcons

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New CITES Guide to prevent illegal trade in falcons

Geneva, 8 July 2009 – The Government of Canada and the Falcon Enforcement Task Force of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) will launch today a new guide on falcons and hawks to coincide with the 58th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee.

The CITES Guide to Falconry Species is available in two editions: one for the public and one restricted to Law Enforcement Officers. The public version of the guide includes an identification key and descriptive for the six falcon and one hawk species most commonly traded for falconry purposes. It also contains information on the identification of juvenile falcons and falcon hybrids.

The Law Enforcement Edition is an expansion of the public edition, and also includes information on indicators of illegal activity. It will helps border control, Customs and police officers to monitor and control the cross-border movements of falcons. The CITES Secretariat and the Falcon Enforcement Task Force are contributors to the Law Enforcement Edition. The guides will also be a useful tool for exporting and importing countries involved in conservation projects.

The two editions were developed by Environment Canada at the request of the CITES Secretariat to help prevent illegal trade in those species. “I am very proud that our department has taken the leadership role in the development of this publication,” said Canada’s Environment Minister Jim Prentice. “Tools like the CITES Guide to Falconry Species will help wildlife enforcement officers around the world prosecute and deter falcon smugglers and discourage poachers trying to evade international wildlife laws.”

In the mid-2000s, illegal trade in birds of prey slumped because the avian flu apparently frightened falconers. However, it seems to be growing again, with major recent seizures in several countries. Illegal harvesting involves the eggs of falcons and hawks being removed from nests in the wild or birds being trapped. These eggs or live birds are then smuggled to countries where falconry is historically and culturally significant and where birds can attract prices of tens of thousands of dollars. As certain falcons are becoming increasingly rare in the wild, this poaching significantly affects their survival.

The Secretary-General of CITES, Willem Wijnstekers, welcomed the launch of both guides and commended Environment Canada and the members of the CITES Falcon Enforcement Task Force for their work on these publications. Mr Wijnstekers commented that “the publication of this type of material is essential in the fight against illegal falcon trade. These guides are very timely and the result of a multi-national effort, bringing together law enforcement agents from around the world”.

Note to journalists

  • The guide is an electronic publication and is available in English and in French. The public edition can be download at:
  • Members of the media interested in knowing more about these guides or the role of the Enforcement Task Forces in CITES are kindly invited to attend the launch event of the CITES Guide to Falconry Species to be held at the CICG (Geneva, Switzerland), on July 8th. For more information please contact John Sellar at +41 (22) 917 82 93 or <john.sellar @>.


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