Over the last thirty to forty years it has been estimated that the Lugger Falcon (Falco jugger), also known as the Laggar Falcon, has undergone a very serious decline across its entire range in the wild. This is due to various reasons such as the expansion of human population, persecution through ignorance, illegal trapping and use in falconry, illegal trapping in very large numbers and being used subsequently as bait birds to catch other larger, more powerful falcons for illicit trade. The usage results in death for the Lugger. Also the serious decline of certain key food species, such as Spiny Tailed Lizards, have had a dramatic effect on the breeding success of Luggers in the wild.
At the time of writing (summer 2019) available population figures for Lugger Falcons in the wild are exceedingly vague and appear to be based more informed guesswork than actual studies in the field. Figures of somewhere in the region of 10,000 to 20,000 pairs would appear to be an oft quoted figure. But please bear in mind the figures are based on the scant accurate knowledge available of wild Lugger Falcon population status at the time, 2016. However the consensus held by leading conservation bodies across the world leans very much towards the lower figure with 12,000 an oft quoted number. Even if we take the highest figure sometimes, in our view erroneously, quoted that still represents a dramatic decline in population levels of some 80%.
Why is it that nothing is already being done and why hasn’t an action plan been drafted and executed? Should there have been an 80% decline in a more iconic species such as the Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug) Peregrine Falcon (Falcon peregrinus) or European Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) the response would have been immediate. Indeed this was the response when there was a marked and noted decline of the latter two examples.
One of the main issues with the Lugger Falcon is the countries that it inhabits are going through serious humanitarian issues because of conflict, food shortages or political differences. As a result, the plight of a species of falcon is not understandably, a high priority during government decision making processes.
The other issue is the Falcon itself. Somewhat drab in appearance it shares part of its habitat with far more promotable species that are in decline; Snow Leopards, Tigers, Asiatic Lions and Himalayan Bears. All of which are easier to produce heart warming photographs of and therefore easier in many ways to raise funds for. While the larger conservation bodies undoubtedly do very good work, and the Lugger Falcon will in some ways benefit from their habitat conservation programmes aimed primarily at other species as well as the various international wildlife educational programs, there are still no Projects, other than ours, directly supporting this magnificent falcon. The Lugger Falcon needs our help and it needs it now.