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OUTCOMES of the II International Scientific anp Practical Conference “Eagles of Palearctic: Study and Conservation”

Eagles of Palearctic: Study and ConservationOrganizers:

Russian Raptor Research and Conservation Network (RRRCN)

MME/Birdlife Hungary

Koltzov Institute of Developmental Biology of Russian Academy of Sciences

Shukshin Altai State Humanitarian-Pedagogical University

Darwin State Nature Reserve

Charitable fund “Biodiversity Conservation Center”

Altai-Sayan Office of the WWF Russia

State Nature Biosphere Reserve “Katunskiy”

National park “Saylugemskiy”

National park “Nizhnyaya Kama”

Sibecocenter LLC

with the support of

Trust for Mutual Understanding, The Altai Project, European Union’s LIFE Nature Fund (Pannoneagle LIFE Project LIFE15NAT/HU/000902), Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia, Rufford Foundation, World Around You Foundation of the Siberian Health Corporation and Russian Foundation for Basic Research “Project for the organization of the International Scientific and Practical Conference “Eagles of the Palearctic: study and protection” (project number: 18-44-221001)

of the II International Scientific and Practical Conference
“Eagles of Palearctic: Study and Conservation”

Katun village, Altai Kray, Russia, 09.09.2018

The II International Scientific and Practical Conference “Eagles of Palearctic: Study and Conservation” was held in a Park-hotel “Lake Aya”, (Katun village, Altai Kray, Russia) from 7th till 9th of September 2018.

Ninety-five specialists from 17 regions of Russia and 24 other countries including Austria, Belorussia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, German, Greece, Hungary, Israel, India, Island, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, and USA took part in the conference. In total, the conference committee received theses of 213 authors from 30 countries.

Eighty-six presentations on different subjects of raptor species’ ecology and geography, conservation aspects, and research methods were done.

The program of the conference consists of six panels beside general issues on raptors distribution, conservation status, ecology, and conservation aspects:
I. I International Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) workgroup meeting
II. II International meeting on conservation of Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis)
III. VIII International Conference on the Conservation of the Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca)
IV. International Scientific and Applicative Workshop “Molecular Genetic Analysis in Raptors Research: Basic and Practical Aspects”
V. International workshop “Raptors and Energy Infrastructure”
VI. Interregional Ornithological Meeting “Important Bird Areas of Russia and Voluntary Forest Certification (FSC-certification)”
The output of the conference is composed of outputs of the panels.

I. The Output of the I International Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) workgroup meeting

Eleven presentations on Osprey were made during the session.
1. During the meeting, it was established that Belorussia, Estonia, Finland, Latvia and the European part of Russia shared the one transboundary Northern European population of Osprey. We support the efforts of specialists and government authorities towards study and conservation of this population.
2. We encourage to spread the experience of Northern-European Osprey research groups across the whole range of the species in Russia.
3. We suggest elaborating a national action plan for Osprey conservation in Russia, and subsequently – a regional action plans.
4. We emphasize that studying and conservation of Osprey on the wintering sites and at the key points of its migratory routes based on international cooperation is very important for this species welfare.

II. The Output of the Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) session and roundtable

Ten presentations on Steppe Eagles were made on 8 September. Talks provided information on eagles on their breeding grounds, on migration and on wintering grounds. Tracking data provided information on individual birds spanning summering, migration and wintering seasons. Main issues of the talks were:
1. The core breeding areas for Steppe Eagle are in Kazakhstan and part of Russia (e.g. Altai-Sayan); Kazakhstan may hold as much as 80 % of the population. However, data are lacking from virtually all areas of their distribution in China and Mongolia. Steppe Eagle has been mostly extirpated from European Russia.
2. Within the breeding grounds there is variation in density of breeders and productivity, but there has been a general decrease in breeding in almost all areas, against a backdrop of increases in Imperial eagle and Long-legged Buzzard populations.
3. Turnover of breeding partners appears to be high, and there appears to be a large proportion of breeding pairs in which at least one member is not adult, suggesting high adult mortality.
4. Fires, changes in food availability (Daurian steppe), disturbance from herding activities, and accidental poisoning and electrocution are primary threats on breeding grounds, but the importance of each is not well understood. Poisoning aimed to eradicate pest birds and rats appears to have affected some parts of the population in Altai-Sayan and the Republic of Tyva.
5. Reducing the risk of electrocution, the establishment of protected areas, and improving food availability (including marmots) are the most important conservation actions in the breeding areas. Breeding data from unstudied areas are needed, and it is important that broad-scale, long-term monitoring schemes are established.
6. Telemetry studies have detailed the migratory movement of a number of individuals. Eagles have migrated south and wintered from Pakistan in the east to East Africa in the west. Few tracking data exist for birds migrating to India. Some birds stop over at rubbish dumps during migration.
7. Eagles migrating toward Africa may be short-stopping and wintering more commonly in Arabia, where landfills and rubbish dumps are providing abundant food. It is not known whether these sources of food are entirely safe, or whether they are benefitting eagles as a new source of food.
8. Count data from Eilat (Israel) are not entirely consistent with apparent declines in Steppe Eagle populations. More data need to be collected to understand this lack of correspondence. Establishment of a network of migration counting sites across the migration routes, ideally at bottleneck sites, that use the same methodology would help resolve this question.
9. On migration and on wintering grounds, shooting, poisoning (inc. NSAIDs in India and Pakistan), electrocution, and power infrastructure collisions are threats. As in breeding areas, details of risks to eagles on migration and wintering grounds are unclear.
10. Almost nothing is known about flight paths and wintering ecology of Steppe Eagles in Africa and Southeast Aisia. New information from India and Pakistan during winter is needed because of the possibility that Steppe Eagles are exposed to potential NSAID poisoning there. Eagles in African may be exposed to risks similar to those faced by vultures, including intentional poisoning. More information is needed from Africa.
11. Education opportunities exist across the range, and across different types of people. The long-distance migration of Steppe Eagle may be a particularly useful for promoting Steppe Eagle conservation.

According to the results of the section and the round table on the steppe eagle for the Raptors MOU participants of the Conference prepared letter of proposal on the need to create a global action plan for the Steppe eagle >>>

III. The Output of the VIII International Conferences on the Conservation of the Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca)

Eighteen presentations of the conference gave reports on the status of Eastern Imperial Eagles in eight countries and introduced the results of several satellite-tracking projects (ca 200 tracked individuals).
Both Pannonian population (in Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Czech Republic, Serbia, and Romania, ca 325 pairs) and Thracian population (in Bulgaria and European Turkey ca 75 pairs) increased by ca 50 % in the last 5 years.
Still, only some small fractions of the Anatolian population are surveyed (ca 50 pairs) and no data is available on the trends.
The main Russian and Kazakhstan populations of the species are estimated to be between 6,465–7,849 breeding pairs, of which 2,481 breeding territories of eagles are recorded (that is 8.67 % more than 5 years ago). The previously recorded general increase of the populations seems to be stopped and a visible increase was only detected in Western Kazakhstan. In parallel local changes in the main habitats was observed in several regions, as eagles moved towards more open habitats and occupied electric pylons more frequently.
Electrocution is still the main threat in most of the distribution area, while predator poisoning seems to be the key mortality factor in the Pannonian populations.
1. We promote cooperation among organizations executing numerous satellite-tracking projects on the Eastern Imperial Eagle, in order to gain the most valuable outputs for conservation purposes.
2. We encourage experts dealing with the conservation or research of Eastern Imperial Eagles to publish that vast experiences, which were gained in the last decades, as the number of publications still very low compared to other threatened raptor species, which were studied with similar intensity.
3. We emphasize that electrocution and poisoning still threats significantly the existence of Eastern Imperial Eagle populations, therefore we urge all relevant organizations to work on the elimination of these problems at the key breeding and wintering areas of the species.
4. We promote enhanced surveys of the populations in Kazakhstan and Turkey with the help of the international expert community, taking into consideration the extremely high importance and relatively low coverage of surveys of these national populations.
5. We suggest that the 9th International Conferences on the Conservation of the Eastern Imperial Eagle should be organized in Kazakhstan or Turkey in 2023 depending on the possibilities of local organizations.

IV. The Output of the International workshop “Raptors and Energy Infrastructure”

Seven oral presentations were made during the workshop.
An issue of animal death at power facilities is an acute problem all over the world and annually it cost millions of Euros both for nature and the industry. An effective solution to this problem requires an understanding of both biology and engineering. Fortunately, solutions are already existing and continually evolving. The best option is to seek a firm renunciation from deploying of hazardous infrastructures during the planning stage of engineering. It is also critical to develop a Program of mitigation the effects on animals in collaboration with power engineers with the support from the government and environmentalists. Monitoring of the actual situation and annual report of its results should become a key component of the Program. We should spread the experience of both – a problem of dangerous technologies we faced and of the ways we found to solve it – from the countries who have passed through this process to the countries who are just recognized themselves at the verge of the problem.
On the practical issues:
1. The better understanding of the factors that influence birds death on wind farms is needed. To address this issue a list of research tasks and a financial support is needed to conduct the relevant research.
2. It is important to get a public awareness on the scale of a problem.
3. It is important to promote communication with design organizations, energy companies, equipment manufacturers, and governmental authorities to put technical solutions and organization procedures for reducing an environmental impact into practice and legislation.
4. We support the exploitation of self-supporting isolated wires on powerlines.
5. It is important to prepare and publish charts mapping the relative bird hazard of areas crossed with power lines or containing wind farms.
6. To appeal to the biggest financial organizations and authorities who are in charge of regulations in energy project financing to include the evaluation of a project impact on birds into their criteria and procedures. In particular, to add bird counting (radar and video detection of the number of passing birds of different sizes in the area of supposed wind farm) as a necessary step in applying for financial support.
7. We support the development of a new renewable and weather-independent sources of energy.
Recommendations to the scientific and environmental community:
1. We encourage O. Goroshko and R. Bekmansurov to publish methodological papers to share their experience on addressing the issue in their regions.
2. We recommend to apply the experience and a software from our colleagues from USA (M. Huso) to obtain realistic estimates on bird mortality by counting dead birds under power lines and wind farms.
3. We recommend to actively participate in the conferences and special meetings to promote the issue among colleagues and specialists from adjacent fields of science and technique. In particular, to consider a possibility to promote the topic at the Blade O&M USA Forum that would be held in the USA in October 2018.
4. To improve the ID of the species found dead at power structures (often only a few parts remains) through development and implementation of already existing methods such as ID of feather, bones, skulls etc.
5. To cooperate with colleagues from the countries (China, India and Middle East) where environmental protection measures on this issue are not yet developed to promote of similar environmental protection projects.

V. The Output of the International Scientific and Applicative Workshop “Molecular Genetic Analysis in Raptors Research: Basic and Practical Aspects”

Ten oral and three poster presentations were made about the implementation of genetical analysis in raptor studies conducted in 11 countries. The reports represented different methodology aspects: sample collection and storage, sample preparation, using of statistical methods in population and evolutionary studies, and peculiarities of molecular data interpretation. The practical examples of using genetical methods in raptor study and conservation were also presents: from the basic phylogeographical and evolutionary researches applying classical (PCR, microsatellite analysis) and modern (NGS) methods to adapting the molecular marker analysis into rare species conservation (identification of hybrids, revealing the origin of raptors killed on power infrastructure).
1. To promote samples collection suitable for DNA based research as a part of all raptor conservation projects with a focus on endangered and critically endangered species.
2. To publish technical recommendations and protocols of sample collection and storage for DNA analysis for field ornithology and zoology.
3. To create an integrated database encompassing all available DNA samples to encourage collaboration.
4. To set up the International Workshop on Genetic Methods in Raptor Conservation as a regular event.

VI. The Output of the Interregional Ornithological Meeting “Important Bird Areas of Russia and Voluntary Forest Certification (FSC-certification)”

1. We suggest an establishment of a working group for developing federal and regional criteria of the Important Bird Areas of Russia (IBAR) and adaptation of international criteria of IBA for Russia in 3 months.
2. We suggest that the description of methodological principles for definition a territory as IBAR and federal and regional criteria should be prepared within one year.
3. All IBAR that are not included or need a substantial adjustment in the IBA Data Base of the Russian Bird Conservation Union should be presented as a GIS-layers.
4. We encourage a development of a methodology of using an IBAR-status of a territory in practical bird conservation issues and conservation of their habitats.

Download in PDF on the letterhead of the Conference >>>

Go to the conference web-page >>>


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Raptors conservation
Пернатые хищники и их охрана 38

Raptors Conservation 38

The new issue of the Raptors Conservation Journal №38 has been published. The issue contains the Proceedings of the II International Scientific Conference “Eagles of Palearctic: Study and Conservation”.

Орлы Палеарктики: изучение и охрана

Reports presented on the II International Scientific and Practical Conference ‘Eagles of Palearctic: Study and Conservation”

Reports presented on the II International Scientific and Practical Conference ‘Eagles of Palearctic: Study and Conservation” (Park-Hotel Lake Aya, Katun village, Altai Kray, Russia, 7-10 September 2018).

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