This project aims to reinforce the on-going efforts to strengthen the European core populations of Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug), a globally threatened species on Annex I of the Birds Directive also identified as priority species for LIFE-Nature projects. The total European breeding population was estimated to 450 pairs. Currently, Hungary and Slovakia hold about 47% of the total European population. Thanks to EU financial support, this population has stabilised and increasing while the European and global population is still decreasing. The LIFE06 NAT/H/000096 project has provided lots of revolutionary new information about the risks, survival rate, migration and roaming of juveniles. We understood that the survival rate of the juveniles might be higher as we estimated before. The juveniles are roaming in very large areas from Spain to Kazakhstan but they spend more time in Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia where there are more, less densely populated suitable habitat. These habitats can be potential expansion areas for the core population if there would be enough nesting place and the endangering factors would be reduced.
The project aims to transfer the knowledge and experiences of Hungarian and Slovak partners gained during the LIFE06 NAT/H/000096 project to Bulgarian and Romanian partners and help them to implement the best practices of F. cherrug conservation.
At the same time, the project also aims to eliminate some endangering threat in the core area too.
The main factors thought to affect the population are loss and degradation of natural nest sites, degradation of feeding habitat and loss of food resources, increased mortality caused by electrocution and hunting, reduced breeding success by collapsing natural nests, human disturbance and possibly increased mortality on migration route and/or wintering grounds.
The purpose of this project is to create favourable conditions for the potential expanding core population in the neighbouring countries to achieve stabilisation in the short-term and through this a steady growth of the F. cherrug population in Europe after the measures taken in this project take effect.
Actions and means involved
This project will focus on securing nesting sites by protection and establishment of nesting sites and settlement of F. cherrug on potential nesting places by installed nest boxes. The project will take effort to better understand the food and habitat preference of the species, introduce Souslik (Spermophilus citellus) friendly habitat management methods for SPA management and influencing the Agri-Environmental Scheme for advanced habitat management. S. citellus will be reintroduced in some potential F. cherrug habitat. The project will also take actions to reduce key factors of mortality. This will involve insulation of dangerous electric pylons around nesting and feeding sites and guarding nests to reduce kills by hunters.To evaluate changes in population trends the project will evaluate migrating losses by satellite telemetry and will gather information from wintering grounds. Also by using satellite transmitters, mapping of habitat use of adult birds will be done mainly in the area of existing or planned wind farms in order to better understand the effects of wind farms on F. cherrug’s behaviour. Data received that way can be used by planning and/or authorizing wind farms. An intensive communication programme, targeting farmers, game managers and political decision-makers at local and national level, erection of attention signs, will increase awareness in the target groups and create support for conservation measures to F. cherrug. To evaluate changes in population trends and to assess the success of conservation actions of the project a comprehensive monitoring programme will inform about the changes in population parameters both in case of S. citellus and F. cherrug.
As a result of this project, the conditions for the conservation of F. cherrug will significantly improve in the project region. It is expected that the F. cherrug population will be 5 pairs in Dobrudzha in Bulgaria, 200 pairs in Hungary, 10 pairs in Romania and at least 35 pairs in Slovakia in 2014.The F. cherrug population will increase up to 7 pairs in Dobrudzha in Bulgaria, 210 pairs in Hungary, 15 in Romania and at least 40 pairs in Slovakia in 2020.