Russian wildlife seized in illegal trade deserve a chance to be wild again

A rehabilitated Gyrfalcon goes back to the wild. Photo © IFAW

Last Christmas Eve, an injured Gyrfalcon was discovered near Moscow.

International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) colleague, Sergey Ganesovich of the Wild Animal Rescue Center in Moscow, was asked by the Russian Bird Conservation Union (RBCU) to identify the species and give recommendations on its rescue and some related legal issues concerning the falcon.

Because of a severe injury and weakened condition, it was easily caught from a tree branch.

Unfortunately, the beautiful falcon had a badly broken wing and its chance for release back to the wild was not possible. As nearly as Sergey could determine, the falcon had escaped from poachers or smugglers. With a rope still attached it could not fly freely.

The RBCU found a suitable shelter to provide lifelong care.

This stunning falcon is one of over fifty live raptors that have been rescued; the majority of which are endangered falcons seized from illegal trade, who are rehabilitated and released back to the wild.

Injured Gyrfalcon. Photo © IFAW/S. GanesovichEvery year Russian authorities confiscate Gyrfalcons illegally bound for export. Tied up tightly with rope, wire or tape these large raptors are squeezed into containers or hidden in suitcases in an attempt to smuggle them out of the country.

Many don’t survive. Those who are discovered alive are sent to the Wild Animal Rescue Center for treatment, rehabilitation and a chance to be released into the wild. Without the Center, these animals would have a slim chance of survival and release.

With support from IFAW, the Center was able to enhance its ability to care for these unfortunate raptors. Last year with IFAW’s help, the center was able to buy a four-wheel drive for bird transportation.  

A small building has been constructed which will serve as a hospital - equipped with necessary equipment and supplies - as well as an aviary to enable the birds to exercise in order to build strong muscles in preparation for release. 

IFAW believes that wildlife belongs in the wild and has supported this rehabilitation work since 2006.

The war on Illegal trade in wild animals must be won and all live animals deserve proper, species-specific care once seized. Whether it’s a little gecko or an endangered greater bamboo lemur, all deserve consideration. Committing adequate resources toward the care and rehabilitation of illegally traded animals is essential.


For more information about IFAW efforts to prevent illegal wildlife trade, visit our campaign page.

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
President and Chief Executive Officer
Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
Dr. Elsayed Ahmed Mohamed, Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Regional Director, Middle East and North Africa
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Senior Advisor to the IFAW Marine Conservation
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Faye Cuevas, Esq.
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Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
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Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
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Pauline Verheij, Program Manager, Wildlife Crime
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Rikkert Reijnen, Program Director, Wildlife Crime
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Staci McLennan, Director, EU Office
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Tania McCrea-Steele, Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Project Lead, Global Wildlife Cybercrime
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Consulting Senior Advisor to the CEO on Strategic Partnerships & Philanthropy