Meet to devise ways for conservation of migratory birds

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London, Oct 22 (UNI) Britain is initiating an international effort to protect migratory birds in Asia, Africa and Europe after it was established that at least half of them were exposed to threats ranging from habitat loss to deliberate persecution and poisoning.

Specialists from 60 countries would meet in Scotland today to discuss the task of devising cross-border measures to be adopted to help the survival of migratory birds.

The experts would decide on the geographical boundaries of any agreement, the species to be covered and whether or not the proposals should be legally binding. The agreement is due to be finalised next year at a meeting in the United Arab Emirates, The Independent reported.

In 2005, an independent study revealed that more than 50 per cent of birds that are likely to be covered by such an international conservation agreement were already threatened either at the global or regional level. Some species were already showing rapid decline.

As top predators, birds of prey are highly sensitive to environmental degradation due to such things as habitat loss, pollution and climate change. They are also vulnerable to man-made hazards such as electrocution from power lines and illegal poisoning by gamekeepers.

''Scotland is home to the majority of raptors within the UK and I look forward to the development of a new international agreement aimed at conserving migratory birds of prey and owls in Africa and Eurasia,'' Scotland's Environment Minister Michael Russell said.

Professor Colin Galbraith of the Scottish Heritage, who will chair today's meeting, said ''Migratory birds of prey include some of the most threatened species worldwide and their populations are excellent indicators of the state of the wider environment.'' UNI

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