This past year has been especially busy and productive—we are working with 34 species of birds of prey in 27 countries around the world, the most ever in The Peregrine Fund’s 41-year history. And, in response to ongoing economic challenges around the world, we are doing it without extra staff or resources. I am grateful to all the hard-working employees who make this possible and to all the loyal and generous supporters who enable us to carry on.
When the Peregrine Falcon verged on the brink of extinction more than 40 years ago, The Peregrine Fund pioneered techniques for breeding falcons in captivity and releasing them to the wild. That was state-of-the-art stuff back then, and it was (and still is) expensive and time-consuming. Even so, we remain committed to captive propagation when necessary to recover endangered species and are proud of our success rearing and releasing many endangered birds of prey through the years, including our current work with California Condors and Aplomado Falcons.
However, I believe it is more important than ever to stop the downward slide long before a species is in serious trouble. Consider the difference between a smoke detector and a speeding fire engine—the smoke detector saves more lives at significantly less expense.
To that end, we spent much of this past year preparing to launch a new program in 2012 that will address the decline in North America of the colorful and charismatic American Kestrel. Like our work to save the Peregrine Falcon, this project also will be state-of-the-art, but using 21st century tools. We are harnessing the power of the internet to team professional researchers with citizen scientists to create a foundation on which to build a sound conservation strategy. Thankfully, the American Kestrel does not yet appear to be in danger of extinction, but we smell smoke. Initiated now, I believe our American Kestrel Partnership can avert an expensive crisis like we once faced with the Peregrine Falcon 40 years ago.
Even as we look for new ways to work harder, faster, and smarter, some things never change. The Peregrine Fund remains a small, nimble, hands-on organization that meets challenges head on. This past year, we sent researchers into the field in countries like Kenya and Uganda in Africa, India, Philippines and New Guinea in Asia, and Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Peru, and Brazil in Latin America to deal with some of the world’s thorniest conservation problems.
We also remain committed to education, particularly efforts that empower local people to conserve birds of prey and their habitat and devise grassroots recovery plans that work best for them. People represent both the biggest threat and the solution to raptor recovery. We are making progress with education and awareness campaigns to end the shooting and poisoning of birds of prey.
Whether I am in meetings or out in the field, I am constantly reminded of the importance of The Peregrine Fund’s role as an innovative and respected raptor conservation organization. I am confident that The Peregrine Fund is well-positioned to adapt to whatever the future brings, and I am grateful to all those who choose to be part of the journey.
Thank you for your support.
J. Peter Jenny has served as President of The Peregrine Fund since November 2006.