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    MOLDOVA --- Who... --- Historical status --- Current status --- Negative factors --- What have we done --- Running projects  
 
 

Who…

The work is implemented by Dr. Nickolay Zubkov, Dr. Andrey Munteanu and Dr. Volodimir Tsurkanu and numerous volunteers – a team of Institute of Zoology – Academy of Sciences of Moldova

     
 

Historical status

Saker was a common wide-spread bird, nesting in different forest stands and on rocky sectors of the Nistru River banks on the whole territory of the republic and rarely could be observed in the winter period (Osterman, 1914). In the middle of the past century before 1970 the Saker Falcon was nesting in many forests of the Prut and Nistru River valleys and had an average density of about 1,2 pairs on 1000 ha (Averin et al., 1971). In the following years its number started decreasing and before the beginning of the 1980 in the Republic about 20 pairs were nesting, of which one third of the pairs was observed on the rocky areas of the Nistru and Prut banks (Zubkov, 1980). By the 1990’s its number decreased to 10-13 pairs (Ganya & Zubkov, 1989).
During the period 2000-2005 there were seven Saker records in Moldova randomly distributed through the country (A. Munteanu). The lack of research in that period does not allow estimation of Saker population.
Survey of Ukrainian team (V. Vetrov and Y. Milobog) revealed a small breeding group of Sakers in south Moldova in 2005. Minimum 8 pairs were nesting on a high voltage power line. This was the first record of Saker breeding on artifact in Moldova.

 
Young Saker Falcons in Moldova © D. Ragyov
 
Young Saker Falcons in Moldova © D. Ragyov
 

Current status

The Saker Falcon breeding group in South Moldova was monitored since 2006. The number seems to stay stable for the last 4 years. Fragments of the rest of the country were surveyed but Sakers were not found. It is possible that the only Saker Falcons breeding in Moldova are those on the electric line in South Moldova which is natural extension of the numerous population in Ukraine.

 
Saker Falcon habitat in south Moldova © D. Ragyov
 
Some electricity pylons in Moldova provide
suitable “nest boxes” for Ravens and Saker Falcons.
© D. Ragyov
 

Negative factors

Transformation of the grassland into crop field seems to be a major factor for the decline of Sakers in Moldova in common with most of the eastern European countries. This transformation is strongly connected with reduction of the number and distribution of key prey species such as sousliks (Spermophilus citellus, Spermophilus suslicus) and grassland birds. The decline was further induced by use of chemicals like DDT, heptachlor and hexachlorocyclohexane in the agriculture management.
With human population growth the disturbance seems to be an important factor currently. This is especially true for the river valleys (Dniester and Raut) where Sakers were nesting on rocks. These rocks are now exposed to disturbance via recreational tourism or quarry (stone-pit) activities. 
Recently cutting of the tall trees and mature forests where Sakers used to breed in the past is additional negative factor.
Nest robbing or trapping of birds was not recorded up to now, but it is not excluded as potential problem for Sakers in Moldova.

 

What have we done:

Since 2006 we are annually monitoring the known breeding Sakers. Data for the occupancy, breeding success and diet are collected in order to improve the knowledge about Saker biology in the region. Additionally we collected feather samples (moulted feathers) for further investigations of Saker genetics – a project initiated in 2009 by International Wildlife Consultants (UK) Ltd. with Prof. Michael Bruford and Dr. Xianjiang Zhan of the School of Biosciences, Cardiff University.

Running project:

Breeding habitat analysis study is an ongoing SESN activity in 2010. The study aims to describe and quantify the Saker Falcon habitats in their breeding territories in South Moldova.

   
 
SESN is coordinated by:
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, Sofia 1113, Yurii Gagarin str. 2
www.ecolab.bas.bg; gsm +359 898 58 55 53; Fax +359 2 870 54 98; e-mail: dimitar.ragyov@gmail.com