Birds of Prey (Raptors)

The CMS Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MOU) aims to promote internationally coordinated actions to achieve and maintain the favourable conservation status of migratory birds of prey throughout their range in the African-Eurasian region, and to reverse their decline when and where appropriate.

Raptors face a variety of human-induced threats such as habitat loss and degradation, illegal shooting and poisoning, collisions with aerial structures and electrocution by power lines. Migratory raptors are particularly at risk due to the often long and arduous annual journeys from their breeding grounds to wintering areas and back.  Moreover, some species either migrate in large groups or form major concentrations along their flyways, for example, at narrow land bridges or sea crossings, which enhance the potential impact of some threats.

In 2005, a year-long study commissioned by the United Kingdom (UK) Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) found that more than 50% of migratory birds of prey populations in the African-Eurasian region were in poor conservation status, and many species were showing rapid or long-term declines.  The UK presented the results of the Defra study to CMS COP8and Resolution 8.12 was adopted, which urged Parties to explore whether the development of a CMS instrument would assist in promoting the conservation of African-Eurasian migratory birds of prey. The Governments of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the UK jointly led an initiative to act on this Resolution. After a meeting to identify and elaborate an option for international cooperation on raptors held in October 2007 and a second meeting of Range States held in October 2008, the Raptors MOU was concluded and it came into effect on 1 November 2008.

The Raptors MOU currently covers 93 species of birds of prey and owls (Pandionidae 1 species, Accipitridae 65 species, Falconidae 15 species, and Strigidae 12 species) which occur in 131 Range States in Africa, Europe and Asia.

An Action Plan is included as an Annex to the Raptors MOU with the following key objectives:

  1. To halt and reverse the population declines of globally threatened (Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable) and Near Threatened birds of prey and to alleviate threats to them such that they are no longer globally threatened or Near Threatened;
  2. To halt and reverse the population declines of other birds of prey with an Unfavourable Conservation Status within Africa and Eurasia and alleviate threats in order to return their populations to Favourable Conservation Status;
  3. To anticipate, reduce and avoid potential and new threats to all bird of prey species, especially to prevent the populations of any species undergoing long-term decline.

Signatories to the Raptors MOU commit to adopting and implementing measures to conserve migratory birds of prey and their habitats, for example, by: providing a legal framework to protect migratory species and a network of habitats and sites along their flyways; identifying important habitats, congregation sites and favoured routes; supporting relevant research and monitoring of populations, sharing results internationally; and, developing cooperative international projects and initiatives to promote effective conservation efforts.

Currently the Coordinating Unit of the Raptors MOU is managing or facilitating four important work streams:

  1. Multi-species Action Plan to Conserve African-Eurasian Vultures (Vulture MsAP): The Vulture MsAP covers the whole geographic ranges (128 countries) of 15 species of Old World vultures to promote concerted, collaborative and coordinated internaional conservation actions. The document was adopted at CMS COP12 and the Coordinating Unit is currently developing a Strategic Implementation Plan for the Vulture MsAP. 
  2. Saker Falcon Task Force (STF): The STF brought together range states and stakeholders to develop a coordinated Saker Falcon Global Action Plan (SakerGAP), including a management and monitoring system. The document was adopted at CMS COP11 and the Coordinating Unit is in the process of developing a draft Implementation Plan. The STF is continuing
  3. Sooty Falcon Working Group (SFWG): The SFWG aims to create an International Species Action Plan, establish an accessible library of information on Sooties, and facilitate research, monitoring and conservation actions on the species. In April 2015, a first draft of a Sooty Falcon ISSAP was circulated to members of the SFWG. An Action Planning Workshop to develop the ISSAP is to be held, subject to additional resources being received by the Coordinating Unit.
  4.  Technical Advisory Group (TAG) of the Raptors MOU: TAG was established in 2015, with an interim TAG having worked 2012-2015. TAG's mission is to support Signatories in the effective implementation of the Raptors MOU, including the Action Plan, which contains priority tasks identified by the Signatories. 

The Raptors MOU is administered by a Coordinating Unit based in Abu Dhabi, UAE.  It is hosted by the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, on behalf of the Government of the United Arab Emirates.

Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi received a CMS Champion Plus Award for its commitment towards conservation of birds of prey in Africa and Eurasia for the period 2015-2019. Since 2009, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, on behalf of the Government of the United Arab Emirates, has hosted CMS Office – Abu Dhabi including the Coordinating Unit of the CMS Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia.


Titlesort descending Status Status date CMS Party number Region
Afghanistan Range State 121 Asia
Albania Range State 076 Europe
Algeria Range State 094 Africa
Andorra Range State Europe
Angola MOU Signatory 2008 099 Africa
Armenia MOU Signatory 2008 115 Europe
Austria Range State 091 Europe
Azerbaijan Range State AM Europe
Bahrain Range State AM Asia
Bangladesh Range State 095 Asia
Belarus Range State 084 Europe
Belgium MOU Signatory 2011 035 Europe
Benin Range State 021 Africa
Bhutan Range State Asia
Bosnia and Herzegovina Range State 126 Europe
Botswana Range State Africa
Bulgaria Range State 061 Europe
Burkina Faso MOU Signatory 2017 030 Africa
Burundi MOU Signatory 2008 116 Africa
Cabo Verde Range State 096 Africa


Instrument nameMemorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia
TypeArticle IV(4)
DepositaryCMS Secretariat
SignatureSigned by 60 Range States/Territories/REIO and 5 Co-operating Partners
In effectOn first day of month following date on which there are at least 8 Signatories, including at least 2 each from Europe, Asia & Africa; open for signature indefinitely, becomes effective for each subsequent RS on 1st day of month following signature date
Website URL
OtherSigned also by 5 Co-operating Partners: CMS Secretariat (22.10.2008), BirdLife International (4.12.2008), the International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey (16.12.2011), IUCN Species Survival Commission Vulture Specialist Group (29.11.2017), and The Peregrine Fund (24.10.2017).
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