November 22, 2005

UK proposes plan to save rare birds of prey

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain has put forward a plan for
international action to protect such rare birds of prey as
eagles, vultures and owls from extinction.

A report commissioned by the Department for the
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) showed that more
than a half the 60 species of migratory birds of prey found in
Africa and Eurasia face extinction, either globally or within
their regions.

"Of all types of birds, birds of prey have always
fascinated people," UK Biodiversity Minister Jim Knight said
this week at the Eighth Conference of the Parties to the
Convention on Migratory Species in Kenya.

"They can live long lives -- hence the 'wise old owl' --
but they have low breeding rates," he added.

If the 93 signatories of the convention agree by the end of
the conference on Friday to commit to the British proposal, the
UK will organize an intergovernmental conference to work out
further details, Knight said.

So far Britain, backed by all its 24 European Union
partners, has outlined priorities for the protection of the
threatened species, said a DEFRA spokeswoman in Nairobi.

Priorities include protecting the birds from shooting or
illegal poisoning by farmers, tackling the effects of climate
change on their habitat and raising awareness of their plight.