Harpy Eagle Conservation Program

Harpy Eagle Conservation Program

By Fritz Sánchez

The progressive extension of agricultural activities, deforestation, indiscriminate hunting and environmental depredation caused by illegal mining in the state of Bolívar (Venezuela) have reduced large portions of forests where the Harpy Eagle (Harpy harpyja) lives in this South American nation.

Aware of the decline in the population of the largest raptor in America, a group of researchers and environmentalists, led by Pilar Alexander Blanco Márquez and Eduardo Álvarez Cordero - Pan-American coordinator of Earthmatters created in 1992 the "Harpy Eagle Conservation Project in Venezuela ”, developing its activities in the Imataca Forest Reserve - Bolívar state, a town where the species is found in the wild.

This project seeks “the preservation of the Harpy Eagle, as a species of wild fauna in its natural environment and to achieve the protection of corridors of jungle habitat that connect the threatened reserves of isolation. In some cases it is already estimated that it will be necessary to apply a conservation management protocol, carefully formulated to include captive propagation and reintroduction techniques for these eagles. But, the greatest importance of our project lies mainly in the protection of localized nests and ensuring the cooperation of the people and institutions closest to this situation ”, explains Dr. Blanco Márquez.

In this sense, he outlined that the work carried out is based on the location of the eagle pairs to study their nesting in Venezuela and protect their nests in order to prevent the extinction of this species listed by CITES in Appendix No. 1, as very threatened.

“As part of this project, since 1992 eagles have been captured in active nests, which are identified with rings, biological and morphometric data are taken, and conventional and satellite telemetry transmitters are placed on them. With the data obtained from the telemetry equipment, a Geographic Information System (GIS) is updated to produce updated maps for field biologists and forest managers. Also with the use of the Global Positioning System (GPS) it has been possible to create and establish maps with the location of Harpy nests (…) With the application of the GIS, it is possible to support those who manage forests and wildlife managers to create protected areas around the nests. If implemented in time, these mini-reserves can prevent human activities that destroy the eagles' nesting territory ”, he pointed out.

The researcher indicated that they have placed more than 20 eagles, transmitters that make it possible to periodically update the dispersal maps of these birds, in turn being able to establish territories and specific hunting habits of these raptors, in order to present the results to the regional and national government, to reorient agricultural and urban development, as well as any other productive activity that threatens the ecosystems where they live.

He also noted that during the program the rescue and rehabilitation of some caged specimens, now released, has been achieved.

"At present, efforts are being made to encourage public and private institutions to implement policies that can prevent the intervention of the nesting territories of Harpies in Venezuela," said the researcher who recently was in Ecuador as an advisor to a program conservation of these birds, when a nest is found in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

* Fritz Alejandro Sánchez Journalist
Photos: Alexander Blanco
Harpy Photo 1:
A satellite transmitter is placed on the raptors and biological and morphometric data are taken
Harpy Photo 2:
A satellite transmitter is placed on the raptors and biological and morphometric data are taken

Video: The Harpy Eagle Is As Big As a Human (May 2021).