From the Field: Kruger National Park

15 July 2020

With lockdown lifting and tourists getting back into Kruger National Park, we hope that we’ll be receiving more re-sightings of our tagged Martial Eagles again. Here’s our latest one from Anne van Zyle who saw Red A1 on 20 June north of Phalaborwa.

This is a male eagle which was first caught by Rowen van Eeden in November 2013 in Kruger. He gave it two colour rings on its right leg with the combination green above red. These were designed for re-sightings just like this, but unfortunately as the years passed the rings broke and we couldn’t ID the eagles from photographs anymore. The last ID of this bird was in 2015. Luckily with every bird we tag we also give it a metal ID ring. These have a unique numeric combination issued by SAFRING and stay on the bird for life. So when Megan Murgatroyd re-caught this eagle in March this year he still has his metal ring on and we could see who he was. We also gave him a new colour ring which is much stronger than his old one and fitted him with a GPS tracker.

So now we know this eagle is a minimum of 13 years old; as in 2013 he was in adult plumage, so already at least 5 years old then (he could have easily been older so maximum age is totally unknown). Since March we have already collected over 37000 GPS fixes from him during which time he has held a territory of approximately 220 square kilometers. He seems to have bred successfully last year as we saw him with a young eagle, so this season is a natural ‘off year’ and he hasn’t been breeding but we are excited to keep following him for the years to come.

Learn more and support HWI's work to study African Eagles here: https://hawkwatch.org/our-work/africaneagles

This project is undertaken by HawkWatch International, FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, and Endangered Wildlife Trust. All trapping and handling of eagles is done under permit from SANparks by an experienced team.

- Dr. Megan Murgatroyd

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