The saker falcon has undergone a rapid decline in recent years, particularly in the Middle East and Asia due to trapping for the falconry trade, and now faces the very real threat of extinction (6). Of those captured for the falconry trade, the vast majority are thought to be young females, creating a major age and sex bias in the wild population that dramatically reduces its breeding potential (2) (6). Females are preferred by falconers due to their larger size and young birds because they are easier to train than adults (2). In Europe, the saker falcon is mainly threatened by the loss and degradation of steppe and dry grassland habitat due to agricultural expansion and declines in sheep pastoralism, which has in turn reduced the availability of key prey species and suitable hunting ground (6). Across the bird's range, declines are also the result of predation (by eagle owls, steppe eagles and golden eagles), human persecution, electrocution, shooting, poaching, and accidental poisoning through pesticides, which contaminate the falcon's prey (2) (6) (7). In some parts of its range, rodent plagues result in the extensive use of poisons to control them, causing the indiscriminate deaths of many raptors that feed on them (5) (7).
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