Focus on Vultures in Africa.

In February last year, the world lost a pioneering wildlife conservationist with the passing of Dr. Peter Munday, formerly of the Zimbabwe National Parks Service.

A short tribute to Peter can be read here: #link to article

To honour his significant contributions to our understanding of African vultures, we will publish a review of his work and findings in this area next quarter.

In the introduction to his article ‘The Vultures of Africa, Peter writes:

“Very much has been written about vultures over the years, as they are such conspicuous
and (sometimes) awe-inspiring birds. They are also widely distributed on three continents
in the Old World and on two in the New World, and a few species have even adopted
quite an intimate relationship with humans. Whereas a detailed review of vultures in
Africa has been published (Mundy et al 1992), such is unfortunately not yet comprehensively available for Asia or Europe, or for North and South America (but see Kiff 2000, Satheesan, 2000, Schlee 2000). One could note in passing that it is now frequently accepted that the vultures of the Old World and those of the New World are not closely related. The former can be thought of as scavenging eagles (Accipitridae family in the Falconiformes) whereas the latter are perhaps scavenging storks (Cathartidae family in the Ciconiiformes?).
Both groups have certain characteristics in common – for example a hooked bill, naked or downy head, food-holding crop – such that they illustrate very well the phenomenon of “convergent” evolution (Houston 2001). In addition, within the Old World vultures,

Commonly regarded as comprising 15 species, there are at least three different evolutionary lines (polyphyletic) (Seibold & Helbig 1995). Finally, it should be emphasised that within this group of birds there is a smaller group of five species of ‘super’-vultures, all of which should colloquially be called griffons. They exhibit a whole set of adaptations to a life scavenging on the carcasses of large (migratory) animals (Houston 1983).
My purposes in this article are to bring together facts about vultures that are relevant
to the bird-strike problem on aeroplanes, and to explore the vulturine connections in
the Old World among the three continents of Africa, Asia and Europe”

In the fourth quarter of this year, we will highlight the contributions of several pioneers in the field and provide links to academic articles for those interested in delving deeper into the study of these fascinating raptors.

IRBPP subscribers will earn CPD hours, and their achievements will be recorded in their personal CPD logs, maintained by the IRBPP.

Not yet a subscriber? #Learn more

Have you got 15 hours to spare?

Do you have 15 hours of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) recorded yet for 2024?

All professional falconers and individuals with a professional connection to birds of prey should complete and document approximately 30 hours of CPD annually. As we approach the mid-year point, you should by now have recorded around 15 hours of activities.

Working with the International Register of Bird of Prey Professionals (IRBPP) simplifies this process. As an IRBPP subscriber, you have immediate access to a comprehensive library of activities, many of which can be completed online. These activities are automatically logged in your personal CPD record, which can be accessed via your phone at any time.

These records can be used to support licensing or re-licensing inspections, demonstrate your commitment to prospective clients, or provide evidence of your professionalism to potential employers.

If you are not yet a member of the IRBPP, please find more information [here].

Welcoming New Falconers: Expanding Opportunities for Experienced Professionals

We are always pleased to welcome both new and experienced falconers from around the globe into our community. This month, we celebrate the achievements of Mikayla from Canada, who exemplifies the spirit of a committed new falconer.

In preparation for taking on her own hawk in the future, Mikayla has already completed the Raptor Awards ‘Combined Course (Theory)’ with with flying colours, demonstrating great dedication and enthusiasm for the future care and welfare of any new raptor she acquires. Her certificate confirms her current level of competence and readiness to advance in this ancient and noble art.

Mikayla’s next step is to begin working with an experienced mentor in Canada, understanding that hands-on experience is crucial as she hones her practical skills and deepens her understanding of falconry.

New Falconers: Creating Expanding Opportunities for Experienced Professionals

As we witness a steady influx of new falconers like Mikayla entering the falconry world, it presents an opportune time for IRBPP members. This wave of fresh talent not only rejuvenates our age-old sport, but also offers significant opportunities for seasoned professionals to make a meaningful impact.

For those with years of experience, there’s a unique chance to guide these newcomers, helping them develop the essential skills and knowledge required to excel in falconry. The demand for training, mentorship, and specialized services is increasing, creating a dynamic market for professional falconers to explore.

Mentorship Programs

Consider launching structured mentorship programs. These can range from one-on-one sessions to group workshops, covering everything from basic handling techniques to advanced hunting strategies. This provides a valuable learning experience for beginners and allows seasoned falconers to share their wisdom and preserve traditional methods.

2. Workshops and Training Courses

Developing comprehensive workshops and training courses can be a rewarding venture. By collaborating with Raptor Awards, your courses can be linked to the national curriculum derived from the International Standards for Bird of Prey Welfare, and successful candidates can receive formal certification.

3. Help and Advice

Become a Raptor Awards Approved Instructor, offering personalized advice and guidance to new falconers. Your Raptor Awards Approved Assessor Certificate will distinguish you from other ‘experts’ and help establish your reputation, creating a steady stream of business.

4. Community Building

Fostering a strong sense of community is invaluable. Organize local meet-ups, online forums, and social media groups where new falconers can connect, share experiences, and support each other.

We all place the welfare of our raptors at the heart of what we do and are constantly disappointed when we see or hear about harm arising from poor knowledge and husbandry skills. You can make a difference.

By embracing these opportunities, we can ensure that the art of falconry continues to thrive and evolve. Let’s celebrate the achievements of new falconers like Mikayla and look forward to a bright future for our community.

Want to know more? #Contact the IRBPP now for more information about how you can benefit from working with new falconers.

DEFRA – tethering update

The IRBPP is delighted to announce that we have finally received an update from DEFRA regarding the new rules on tethering, transporting birds of prey, and accommodation at venues and events.

We previously reported that, following extensive consultation, there are proposed changes to the rules regarding the tethering of all birds of prey for display purposes. Additionally, the regulations concerning the care of birds of prey when they are not flying or on display will be amended.

Currently, these new regulations are set to be incorporated into The Secretary of State’s Standards of Modern Zoo Practice but it is also widely acknowledged that they will eventually be included in the Animal Activities Licensing guidance.

What Does This Mean for Professional and Commercial Falconers?

Firstly, it’s important to note that the new rules have not yet been released. Following representations and suggested amendments, DEFRA has delayed the introduction pending final re-drafting. As of our latest contact with DEFRA, no fixed publication date has been announced, although it is anticipated that the new rules will be announced ‘in the near future.’ It is also clear that there may well be additional changes made before the final release date, and we have confirmed with DEFRA that the IRBPP will be notified when the final version is released.

Initially, the new rules will only affect professional and commercial falconers operating under the terms of a Zoo Licence. Furthermore, there will be an extended grace period before the new rules take effect. This is intended to give Zoo Licence Holders ample time to rebuild enclosures and display spaces to comply with the new regulations. The original deadline for implementation in 2027 may be extended to reduce the financial impact on Zoo Licence Holders, providing additional time for the adoption of new equipment and practices.

What About Shows, School Visits, and Other ‘Off-Site’ Events?

As far as we are currently aware, the new rules for transporting birds to and from events and shows, as well as the accommodation requirements for birds held prior to display, will be more flexible than originally proposed. A likely change is the introduction of a 4-hour time limit for keeping birds in ‘transport boxes.’ This is a considerable improvement on the 1 hour time limit originally proposed.

It is worth noting that birds of prey in transit can be safely boxed for longer than this – subject to regular inspections – it would have been logical to harmonise the two time limits rather than introduce a different time limit when not travelling.

While this adjustment will certainly benefit falconers at one-day events, it still necessitates the provision of new, purpose-built temporary accommodation for multi-day shows where many birds will be used over several days.

We will re-post further updates as we receive them from DEFRA. In the meantime be wary of some of the hyperbole and uninformed comment of the Social Media Platforms.

The IRBPP remains the only organisation dedicated to supporting the professional and commercial falconry sector.

IRBPP Members Supporting New Falconers:

A group of experienced falconers, including several IRBPP members, recently participated in a development day in the East Midlands. This group included current Raptor Awards Approved Instructors, as well as four new Instructor/Assessors in training.

Promoting bird of prey welfare and mentoring new learners is not only a rewarding activity but also a potential source of significant additional income.

Are you interested in qualifying as a new Instructor/Assessor within the Raptor Awards Network?

If you are an experienced falconer with good references and a passion for improving bird of prey welfare through education and training, we encourage you to get in touch!

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