The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) is included in the Red Data Book of Ukraine (1994) as a vulnerable species, and has the status of ‘Least Concern’ in the Red List of IUCN/Birdlife (2004). In the new edition of the Red Data Book (in print) it is referred as ‘rare’.
The second half of the 20th century was characterized with a catastrophic decrease of species numbers in all parts of the range especially in the Mediterranean area. As a result in 1980s the Peregrine population in Ukraine reached its minimum equaling to about 15-20 pairs. However already since 1980s the population showed a restoration trend in the Crimea. In the end of the 20th century and in the beginning of the 21st century the increase rate of numbers was rather high (as for such a rare species). This process attracted attention of ornithologists from Ukraine and recently three groups of specialists have published 3 papers, which we present below to download. All of them mutually complete each other and allow to receive quite a full image of the current status of the Peregrine Falcon in Ukraine. The numbers of breeding birds in the Crimea were estimated by V.N. Kucherenko and S.Yu.Kostin (2003) as 50-55 pairs, M.M.Beskaravainy and A.N.Tsvelykh (2009) – about 70 pairs, V.V.Vetrov, S.P.Prokopenko and Yu.V.Milobog (2009) about 105–110 pairs and additive 10-15 pairs in the Carpathians.
Dear ornithologists and birdwatchers! We would like to continue the discussion started at our webpages on exploitation of birds of prey by photographers.
Reasons AGAINST EXPLOITATION of birds of prey for photographing with tourists:
1) Taking birds of any species away from nature is forbidden and requires a special permission. This is violation of the Law of Ukraine “About Animal World” (2002) and is an administrative offence. If a species is listed in the Red Data Book of Ukraine (1996) the use of such birds is also the violation of the Regulation on the Red Data Book of Ukraine approved by the Supreme Council (Verkhovna Rada) of Ukraine in 2002. If revealed the use of red list species entails considerable compensation (penalty).
2) Being chicks or old ones – birds used for photographing are taken away from nature. This fact brings about decline in natural populations. It is especially crucial for rare species number of which in some regions can constitute only of several pairs.
3) As a rule, wild birds are kept in unsatisfactory conditions. People which look after them haven’t necessary skills of keeping birds of prey. As a consequence, birds get ill, injured and don’t live for long. Also, it is not humane in respect to birds which suffer from serious stress in this case.
4) People demonstrate a low level of their ecological culture if taking pictures with birds of prey.
Wide distribution of such a “business” at the present moment is confirmed not only by quantity of the birds proposed for photographing in places of mass recreation. Recently, it is also quickly developing the trade of birds of prey exactly for aims of taking pictures. See, for instance, the site ЗооРынок.com.ua.
Now it is holiday time, and many of us actively spend it at the seaside. At present we know that raptors are used by photographers, but a real scale of this phenomenon is rather difficult to estimate. If you see birds of prey in these situations please write comments to this publication, and send photo of birds to our email email@example.com. This data will give us possibility to plan better activity to prevent and work against this distractive event.
It is necessary also to explain that it is the demand which causes supply. Don’t take pictures with wild birds and explain to others why it should not be done!
Maxim Gavrilyuk, Sergey Domashevsky
An expedition was undertaken during the last decade of May 2009 in the framework of the project supported by the Falcon Research Centre (United Kingdom). The aim was to reveal the sites, suitable to set up nest boxes for Saker Falcons on poles of power lines.
The participants of the expeditions were Vitaly Vetrov, Sergey Domashevsky and Elena Vetrova. In the first place they investigated the power lines adjoined the sites with good food resource (colonies of small sousliks, rooks, gulls and other species of birds) and with absence of territorial pairs of ravens (main suppliers of nests for falcons) or human disturbance factor.
Territories of Kherson region, Zaporizhzhya region and Crimean Autonomous Republic were studied by car ‘Niva’. The route crossed both virgin steppes and agricultural landscapes. The points interested for the project were fixed with GPS. A total of 49 points, prospective for further setting up of nest boxes, were identified.
Steppes and agrocoenoses of the Central and North Crimea, south areas of Kherson region and Zaporizhzhya region were rather thoroughly investigated. In a total, the expedition covered over 2,500 km.
In one of our previous publications we have raised the problem of absence of any raptor rehabilitation centre in Ukraine. It is pleasant to notice that on regional level there are attempts of solving this problem.
In the region of Ukrainian Carpathians there isn’t any specialized agency for rehabilitation of wild animals which suffered or temporarily lost abilities to survive in nature. Institutions for reintroduction of rare species don’t exist either. So, suffered animals are usually killed and stuffed or, as a better variant, given to zoos or traveling menageries, where kept till their death.
In August 2007, according to an initiative of staff-workers of the Scientific Department of Galych National Natural Park (Ivano-Frankivsk region, Galych City – www.halychpark.if.ua) the first animal was taken for rehabilitation and further release to nature. In 2008, an idea was born to establish the West Ukrainian Wild Animals Rehabilitation and Reintroduction Centre (hereinafter the Centre) on basis of the Park. The Park administration gave less than 3,000 hrivnas to construct open-air cages, buy food and a freezer.
That is why it’s outrageous to see in modern editions of the pigeon-breeders (particularly, the paper by V. Trigub in ‘Vestnik Golubevoda’ (Pigeon-breeder’s Herald), 2007, Iss. 7, 8) barbarian calls for exterminating raptors by all possible means as if they irretrievably harmed the pigeon-breeding. Knowledge of birds of prey is surprisingly poor among the pigeon-breeders. Such publications by them demonstrate that in spite of being excellent experts in pigeons their knowledge of other birds, raptors in particular, is scanty, they do not differentiate them and have low awareness of their ecology.
The papers of such kind brought about thoughts about a role of humanity in the fortune of nature. We think there is a necessity to search for weighed solution of this problem taking into consideration both interests of the pigeon-breeders and needs of birds of prey. Moreover, the pigeon-breeders already have solid experience in reducing loss caused by raptors (A.D. Mikheev, ‘Vestnik Golubevoda’, 2007, Iss. 8; Patoka 1995; Aksenov, Timoshevsky 1994; Chebanov 1997 et al.).
These materials prepared by us open a series of papers dedicated to this topic. We invite all people interested in this problem to discuss relations between the pigeon-breeding and birds of prey at our website pages.
Two attempts of illegal transportation of falcons were registrated during last month in Ukraine.
Cases of detention of illegally transported falcons by customs officers in Ukrainian airports have been already known. For instance, in 2002 Donetsk Airport suppressed exportation of three Gyrfalcons and six Sakers. After that, the birds were given to Kyiv Zoo. In 2005, Zaporizhzhia customs stopped an attempt of transportation of a falcon consignment (probably transit through Ukraine), comprising over 40 birds. In 2006, five Gyrfalcons were detained in the airport of Borispol, and due to unknown motives given to the Ukrainian Children Ecological and Naturalistic Centre (UCENC). Conditions of bird- keeping did not correspond to the norms prescribed for such cases, and the keeper in the UCENC was unqualified. As a result, birds began getting sick and die. It is strange, that the director of UCENC did not want to part with falcons until the last moment, and did not address for help to experts of Kyiv Zoo.
The year 2008 was also fruitful with detentions of illegal consignments of falcons by the customs of Borispol Airport. October 10, during customs examination of passengers of the flight Kyiv-Damask there were detained a consignment of 9 birds. According to our data it included the Gyrfalcon, Peregrine and 7 Sakers, all in awful condition. And again, due to inexplicable reasons these falcons were given to UCENC. The situation repeated with a bad scenario for the forfeited birds. To-date we know that one Saker died. There is also a suspicion that some birds were substituted for less “marketable” individuals.