While the species as a whole has a very wide distribution range, local abundance varies greatly. This holds particularly true when comparing the status of the four African subspecies and that of the European Falco biarmicus feldeggii. Being in the northernmost part of its range, this subspecies is particularly vulnerable to the many threats it faces. Direct persecution, electrocution and collision sadly reinforce the biggest menace to this raptor, namely loss of suitable habitat and use of pesticides. In the past, rodenticides have effectively extinguished this subspecies from Israel.
During the 1950s and 1970s poaching has had a considerable impact on the Italian population, albeit difficult to quantify. The Lanner has always been a prized species in falconry, and the illegal trading of eggs and chicks has been fuelled by nest robbing. Sadly, this phenomenon has not yet been eradicated, even though the species has been legally protected in Italy since 1977.
While the oldest wild Lanner recorded was 17 years old, mean life expectancy is only around 5 years. On top of this, birds do not breed until they are at least 3 years old, and newly formed couples are known to have lower reproductive success. Approximately 20% of all clutches are incomplete, with only one egg. Less than half the chicks survive the post-fledging period, which is very vulnerable. All in all, recruitment is exceptionally low.
Despite its current state as protected species, the breeding population of F. b. feldeggi has not increased in number as has been seen over the same period for similar species, such as the peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus). Only 25% of breeding pairs reside in protected areas, which do not fully represent preferred habitat. Conservation measures have been inadequate for this subspecies, whose presence in Europe is ephemeral and fragmented. With captive breeding and careful reintroduction, the LIFE Lanner project aims to revert the negative population trend, hopefully stopping its decline in Italy.
Giovanni Leonardi, Marco Preziosi, Alan C. Kemp (2015) The Lanner Falcon, privately published