Breeding success: how tattoos and aviaries are helping save the saker falcon

Breeding success: how tattoos and aviaries are helping save the saker falcon

In Bulgaria and southern Siberia, conservationists are finding innovative ways to halt decades of decline for the endangered species

Large and powerful with a wing span of more than a metre, the saker falcon is one of the fastest birds in the world. They soar high in the air before diving at up to 200mph to catch small mammals and birds.

These predators used to be plentiful, from the grasslands and forest steppes of central and eastern Europe to the semi-desert and mountain plateau regions of east Asia, but over the past few decades human activities have devastated numbers. The global population declined by nearly half between 1993 and 2012 and saker falcons are now listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with only about 10,500 breeding pairs left in the wild.

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