Nairobi, Sept 30 – The Abu Dhabi-based Mohamed Bin Zayed Raptor Conservation Fund has appointed renowned Kenyan birds of prey conservationist Munir Virani as its new chief executive officer.

Virani has more than 20 years of experience in research and conservation of birds of prey spanning four continents, including East Africa, India, Nepal, Pakistan and the Neotropical region. He joins the Fund from Idaho in the United States where he was the Executive Vice President and Global Director for Conservation Strategy at The Peregrine Fund.

Born and raised in the Kenya capital, Nairobi, Virani graduated with First Class Honors in Zoology and was selected by The Peregrine Fund to train as a raptor biologist under the legendary Simon Thomsett. Virani registered at the University of Leicester (U.K.) and did his Master’s degree on the endangered Sokoke Scops Owl. He successfully completed his PhD at the same university where his research focused on the Augur Buzzard, an African bird of prey.

“As we approach the UAE’s ‘Year of 50’ celebrations, I feel incredibly privileged to serve in this position and attend my first ADIHEX (Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition) event as Chief Executive Officer of the Raptor Conservation Fund,” said Virani on his appointment.

“It is a great advantage to be strategically located in the UAE surrounded by passionate people and be able to contribute my expertise towards catalysing and facilitating transformative and impactful conservation of raptors around the world.

“The UAE leadership has a long history associated with falconry and raptor conservation, and I feel humbled to be part of their commitment and vision.”

The Mohamed Bin Zayed Raptor Conservation Fund is participating in this year’s Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition as it ramps up global projects aimed at protecting and conserving birds of prey during the UAE’s “Year of 50” celebrations.

The Fund was founded in April 2018 by Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, to develop solutions to key global challenges facing raptors. The fund works to activate and facilitate global programmes that support transformative conservation and restoration of raptors in jeopardy and their habitats as valuable elements of biodiversity.

The Fund has a number of projects currently in the planning stage that will be launched over the next year, including the Sheikh Zayed Falconry Library, Middle East Falconry Archive, and the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Wing at the Archives of Falconry in Boise, Idaho.

ADIHEX got underway on September 27 and will continue until October 3 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.