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Migratory Birds and the Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade 

Related CMS Resolutions, Publications & Articles

10.26. Minimizing the Risk of Poisoning to Migratory Birds [PDF]

Recognizing that, under Article II of the Convention, Party Range States agree to take action  for  the  conservation  of  migratory  species  whenever  possible  and  appropriate,  paying special  attention  to  migratory  species, the  conservation  status  of  which  is  unfavourable, and taking individually or in cooperation appropriate and necessary steps to conserve such species and their habitats.


11.15 Preventing Poisoning of Migratory Birds [PDF]

Recognizing that Article III (4)(b) of the Convention requires Parties that are Range States of migratory species listed in Appendix I to endeavour “to prevent, remove, compensate for or minimize, as appropriate, the adverse effects of activities or obstacles that seriously impede or prevent the migration of the species”.

11.16 The Prevention of Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade of Migratory Birds [PDF]

Recalling Article  III  (5)  of  the  Convention  which  provides  for  Parties  that  are  Range States  to  prohibit  the  taking  of  species  included  in  Appendix  I, and Article V(5) (k) on Guidelines for AGREEMENTS which suggests, where appropriate and feasible, each Agreement should prepare for procedures for co-ordinating action to suppress illegal taking;


Guidelines to Prevent the Risk of Poisoning to Migratory Birds [PDF]

Following Resolution 10.26 on Minimizing the Risk of Poisoning to Migratory Birds, several  documents  have  been  prepared  including: a “Review  of  the  ecological  effects  of poisoning on migratory birds”; “Guidelines to Prevent Poisoning of Migratory Birds”; and a draft  Resolution  on  “Preventing  Poisoning  of  Migratory Birds”.  To  undertake  this  task, a Working  Group  was  established  under  the  Scientific  Council  and  a  Coordinator  of  the Working Group was appointed in January 2013, thanks to the financial support of the United Kingdom  and  the  Coordinating  Unit  of  the  UNEP/CMS  Memorandum  of  Understanding  on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MOU).


Review of the Ecological Effects of Poisoning on Migratory Birds [PDF]

The  present Report  has  been  elaborated  by  the  CMS  Preventing Poisoning  Working  Group  to  serve  as  background  information  to the draft Resolution on “Preventing Poisoning of Migratory Birds” and  the “Guidelines  to  Prevent  Poisoning  of  Migratory  Birds” submitted to COP11 in document UNEP/CMS/COP11/Doc.23.1.2.


A Review of Migratory Bird Flyways and Priorities for Management [PDF]
The phenomenon of bird migration has been a source of wonder for man since time immemorial. However, the biological integrity of this intricate seasonal journey, which covers a network of several biomes across different frontiers and continents, is being compromised due to a plethora of threats and challenges, and consequently the vulnerability of migrat ory birds is increasing worldwide.


Countries Meet to Tackle Poisoning of Birds in Southern Africa
Representatives of countries and wildlife experts met in Cape Town, South Africa on 24 August, to address poisoning of migratory birds, a problem that also threatens important predators. The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS),  the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) and the CMS Memorandum of Understanding on Birds of Prey (CMS Raptors MOU), all three instruments  administered by the United Nations Environment Programme, have convened the international meeting. (Read more)


Opinion: Tackling Africa's Impending Vulture Crisis
Lightning never strikes the same place twice, or history always repeats itself? Unfortunately in the case of vultures, nature's "clean-up" crew, the latter applies -- with African populations of these useful birds facing catastrophic declines -- just as their South Asian counterparts did in the 1990s. Patricia Zurita and Bradnee Chambers explain the importance of protecting vultures, whose vital ecological role has a direct bearing on human health. (Read more)


Countries Meet to Tackle Threats to Europe’s Most Endangered Bird of Prey
Government officials, NGOs and experts from over 30 countries met from 5 to 8 July  in Sofia, Bulgaria, to develop a Flyway Action Plan for the Egyptian Vulture.  For the first time more than 70 representatives from Africa, Asia and Europe came together to save one of the most endangered species of birds of prey on earth.  The meeting was jointly organized by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BirdLife Bulgaria) in the frame of the LIFE+ project “The Return of the Neophron”, and the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MOU), which was concluded under UNEP Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). (Read more)


Declaration by Participants of the Egyptian Vulture Flyway Action Planning Workshop [PDF] 
We, seventy representatives of Governments, local authorities, nature conservation organizations and universities from 33 countries gathered in Sofia, Bulgaria in the framework of the Egyptian Vulture Flyway Action Plan workshop, jointly hosted by the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds (BirdLife Bulgaria) and the Coordinating Unit of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MOU);

Recognizing that the Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) is one of our region’s most threatened bird species (classified by the IUCN Red List as ‘Endangered’) due to rapid and continuing population declines for over 20 years.

CITES and Wild Bird Trade

Wildlife trade is big business and generates substantial revenue worldwide. Alongside the illegal trade in arms and drugs, the smuggling of animals, plants and their parts, is one of the biggest challenges in terms of combating international crime. Some flagship species for conservation, such as the tiger and African elephant, have been notably affected by this illegal activity. Nearly 4,000 bird species involving several million individuals annually are subject to domestic or international trade with finches, weavers, parrots and raptors being some of the most heavily affected groups. (Read more)

BirdLife International

Unsustainable Exploitation of Birds is most prevalent in Asia
In 2012, nearly all the countries and territories of the world (242, 99%) harbour bird species that are threatened by overexploitation, but this threat appears to be particularly prevalent in Asia (analysis of data held in BirdLife’s World Bird Database 2012). This region has eight out of the ten countries with the highest numbers of threatened birds at risk from exploitation. Indonesia and China stand out: as well as affecting the greatest number of species (82 and 71 respectively), overexploitation is impacting a higher proportion of all their threatened birds, and hence their entire avifauna, than would be expected in these countries. (Read more)


The Red List Index for Internationally Traded Bird Species Shows their Deterioration in Status
One third (3,337) of living bird species have been recorded as traded internationally for the pet trade and other purposes. Among these species, factors related to international trade (unsustainable levels or successful control or management of such trade) have caused an overall deterioration in the status of these species. However, factors other than international trade are more significant drivers of their declines. (Read more)


Nearly Half of all Bird Species are Used Directly by People
Human uses have been recorded for 45% of the world’s nearly 10,000 bird species. Over a third of bird species are kept as pets and around one in seven is hunted for food. It is difficult to know how many individual birds are used, although it is estimated that between half a billion and one billion songbirds are hunted each year in Europe alone, for sport and food. (Read more)


Overexploitation is a Threat to many large and Conspicuous Bird Species
Over one third of all threatened birds are affected by overexploitation by humans for food and trapping for the cagebird trade. These impacts are biased towards large species (for food) and colourful species (as cagebirds). Hence, these threats are particularly severe for certain families, notably parrots, pigeons, and pheasants. (Read more)


The Killing [PDF] 
The BirdLife Partnership presents this review based on the first ever comprehensive scientific study to quantify the scale and scope of illegal killing across the Mediterranean region. The results are gruesome. Despite legal protection, illegal bird killing is taking place at quite extraordinary and unsustainable levels. While many turn a blind eye, an estimated 25 million birds are being illegally massacred annually.

European Commission

EC Birds Directive

DIRECTIVE 2009/147/EC (originally Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979).

The EC Birds Directive provides for the sustainable management of hunting, but Member States must outlaw all forms of non-selective and large-scale killing of birds, especially the methods listed in Annex IV set out below:



— Snares (with the exception of Finland and Sweden for the capture of Lagopus lagopus lagopus and Lagopus mutus north of latitude 58° N), limes, hooks, live birds which are blind or mutilated used as decoys, tape recorders, electrocuting devices,
— artificial light sources, mirrors, devices for illuminating targets, sighting devices for night shooting comprising an electronic image magnifier or image converter,
— explosives;    
— nets, traps, poisoned or anaesthetic bait;    
— semi-automatic or automatic weapons with a magazine capable of holding more than two rounds of ammunition;


— aircraft, motor vehicles;    
— boats driven at a speed exceeding five kilometres per hour. On the open sea, Member States may, for safety reasons, authorise the use of motor-boats with a maximum speed of 18 kilometres per hour. Member States shall inform the Commission of any authorisations granted.

EC Roadmap towards Eliminating Illegal Killing, trapping and Trade of Birds [PDF]

Based on various sources of information (in particular the Bern Convention Recommendation on the illegal killing, trapping and trade of wild birds, discussions with BirdLife International, the Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation of the EU (FACE), and Member States, and a study produced for the Commission, the Commission intends to identify actions to be taken at EU or Member State level with a view to increase effectiveness in measures aimed at eliminating illegal killing, trapping, and trade of birds in the EU.

FACE - Wildlife Crime 

The issue of illegal killing is a widespread concern but is not and should not be largely linked to hunting or hunters. It is a problem with a variety of motives, primarily illegal trade and smuggling, persecution (for competition or commercial reasons), indirect killing through poisoned baits – all committed by a large variety of actors. (Read more)

CIC - Hunters United against Wildlife Crime

Wildlife crime continues to capture the international headlines. Poaching and illegal wildlife trade have always been problems, yet today a true crisis has developed! If no action is taken against the poaching on the ground and the trafficking in certain regions the survival of species is threatened. This all is evident not only from the media and the research reports circulating, but also from the outcome of the various high-level summits which have taken place on the subject, culminating in the London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade last month. (Read more)

State of migratory birds

BirdLife International - Migratory Birds and Flyways 

This webpage outlines the state of migratory birds, the threats they face and current international initiatives to protect migratory birds and their flyways.

BirdLife International - State of the world's birds 2013 

This report provides a comprehensive overview of global bird conservation trends and the threats faced by the world’s birds

American Bird Conservancy - Mortality Threats to Birds

This webpage provides information on mortality threats to birds and facts about bird conservation.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 

This comprehensive database contains information on the conservation status and trends of many of the world’s plant and animal species. It is produced by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Living Planet: Connected Planet – Preventing the End of the World's Wildlife Migrations through Ecological Networks. A Rapid Response Assessment 

This report assesses the state of the world’s migratory species and outlines the case for migratory species conservation. It was produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).

Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) Canada 

This program aims to protect migratory birds in the urban environment. The website provides information on urban threats to birds and potential solutions.

Flyways conservation 

CMS Programme of Work on Migratory Birds and Flyways  [pdf]

This document outlines the Programme Work on Migratory Birds and Flyways as adopted by the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). It outlines a number of actions to be taken by CMS parties to promote the conservation of migratory birds and their flyways.

The Western Hemisphere Migratory Species Initiative (WHMSI) 

The mission of the Western Hemisphere Migratory Species Initiative is to contribute to the conservation of migratory species of the Western Hemisphere.

East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) 

An international network of national governments, inter-governmental organizations, NGOs and private enterprise for the conservation of migratory waterbirds, their habitats and the livelihoods of people dependent upon them in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.

Wings over Wetlands (WOW) - The African-Eurasian Flyways Project 

Completed in 2010, WOW aimed to improve the conservation of African-Eurasian migratory waterbirds through implementing measures to conserve the critical network of sites used in the their annual cycle.

The Siberian Crane Wetland Project (SCWP) 

Completed in 2010, the SCWP was a six-year project aimed at sustaining the ecological network of wetlands in Asia that are of critical importance for migratory waterbirds.

BirdLife International- spotlight on flyways 

This webpage outlines a number of international initiatives on flyways conservation. It also includes fact sheets for each of the world’s eight major flyways and links to over thirty case studies on migratory birds and flyways.

Migratory bird science 

African Bird Ringing Scheme (AFRING) 

Supported by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA), this programme aims to improve the coordination and quality of bird ringing efforts within Africa.

European Union for Bird Ringing (EURING) 

A coordinating body for bird ringing schemes in Europe.

RSPB Satellite Tracking 

This page outlines the key tracking activities of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). It includes interactive maps showing the international pathways flown by migratory birds.

BTO Tracking Studies 

This page outlines the key tracking activities of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). It includes a time lapse map of the movements of migrating individuals over their annual cycle.

BirdLife International – Birds as an environmental barometer 

This article discusses the role of birds as indicators of biodiversity loss and environmental wellbeing.

Related conventions and international organizations

Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) 

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (also known as CMS or Bonn Convention) aims to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range.

African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) 

The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) aims to maintain or restore populations of waterbird species in the Africa-Eurasia region at a favorable conservation status.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 

UNEP is the voice for the environment within the United Nations system. UNEP's mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment.

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 

The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) aims to conserve biological diversity, ensure sustainable use of the components of biological diversity and ensure fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.

Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) 

The Ramsar Convention aims to ensure the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world.

International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) 

Coordinated by Environment for the Americas, IMBD raises awareness of migratory bird conservation in the Americas. It was created in 1993 by visionaries at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

BirdLife International 

BirdLife International is a global partnership of conservation organizations that strives to conserve birds, their habitats and global biodiversity.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 

IUCN is the world's largest conservation network with the mission to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature.

International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) 

The International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) is a politically independent advisory body which aims to preserve wild game and hunting. The mission of CIC is to promote, on a global scale, sustainable hunting as a tool for conservation, while building on valued traditions.

Wetlands International 

Wetlands International is an international NGO dedicated to the conservation and wise use of wetlands. They work regionally, nationally and internationally to achieve the conservation and wise use of wetlands.