Significant population declines of large eagles in Africa are concerning, and HawkWatch International is working to understand what is causing these declines and how we can increase conservation efforts.
Martial Eagles in Kruger National Park, South Africa
Martial Eagles are Africa’s largest eagle. They are found in low densities in savannah and thornbush habitats, where they select large trees for nesting. Researchers at the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology have established that populations of Martial Eagles have decreased significantly, up to 60% in the last 20 years in South Africa. These declines have also been recorded in large, protected areas.
This project is active in Kruger National Park, which is one of Africa’s largest protected areas. In collaboration with the FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology and the Endangered Wildlife Trust, HawkWatch International biologists are monitoring nests for breeding attempts, and installing cameras in nests to learn more about what causes breeding failure. We are also using GPS tracking to follow adult Martial Eagles to get an insight into habitat requirements as well as the causes of mortality. Together, this information will all contribute to understanding the reasons behind population declines of this eagle before it is too late.
Verreaux’s Eagles and Wind Energy in Africa
Verreaux’s Eagles are the African equivalent of the Golden Eagle. They are mountain specialists and build large stick nests on inaccessible cliff faces. Because of the location, these nests are normally robust to disturbance and habitat loss. Still, in many areas, their home ranges have undergone fragmentation and land-use change. In southern Africa, populations of Verreaux's Eagles have declined by about 30%, and more recently, they have come under additional pressures from wind energy. Like Golden Eagles, Verreaux’s Eagles are prone to collisions with wind turbines and the combined impacts of mortality from these collisions could threaten the species’ long-term viability.
This project uses GPS tracking data to record Verreaux’s Eagle flight behaviour to create a collision risk model. This model will provide information that allows biologists to better predict collision risks at proposed development areas, and is essential to ensuring that new developments and individual wind turbines do not pose risks to eagles.