A Rare Captive-Raised Harpy Eagle Has Fed on Its Own in the Wild
13 January 1999For the first time, a rare, captive-raised and released Harpy Eagle fed on its own in the wild. Biologists observed the eagle feeding on an unidentifiable mammal in a remote area of tropical forest in Panama's Soberania National Park. The eagle hatched at the World Center for Birds of Prey on 25 May 1997 and was released on 15 January 1998. The eagle was the 7th to hatch in captivity and the first Harpy Eagle to be released. The Harpy Eagle is Panama's national bird.
"This eagle had lost interest in the food I was providing so I was concerned about her health," stated Alberto Palleroni, Ph.D. of The Peregrine Fund. "My concern quickly turned to excitement when I realized that she was finding food on her own," finished Palleroni.
The Harpy Eagle is a flagship for the conservation of life's diversity in the lowland rainforests of Latin America. It is one of the first species to be lost from altered habitats. Human persecution by shooting and poisoning also threaten the survival of this species. Scientifically, as one of the least known species of large predators, there is considerable interest in its role in conserving the ecosystem.
Biologists at The Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey and the San Diego Wild Animal Park are propagating the Harpy Eagle with unreleaseable eagles. Less than 10 Harpy Eagles have hatched in captivity and five of these have been released in Panama's Soberania National Park. Four of the five remain in the wild. Parents of this eagle are from Panama (male) and Ecuador (female) and are on loan to The Peregrine Fund from the respective government agencies ANAM in Panama and INEFAN in Ecuador.
Field work in Venezuela and Panama continues to yield important data on eagles nesting in the wild. Eleven nests in Panama and 20 nests in Venezuela were monitored over an extended period concluding in 1998. With assistance from NASA, satellite transmitters, radios and ARGOS satellites were used to track the eagles. This information is being used to determine where young eagles go after leaving the nesting area and to help determine their survival.
The Peregrine Fund was founded in 1970 at Cornell University in response to the catastrophic decline of the Peregrine Falcon throughout much of North America. The efforts to save this species resulted in breakthroughs in the field of endangered species research. In addition to the Peregrine Falcon and Harpy Eagle, The Peregrine Fund is involved with conservation projects around the world with species such as the Aplomado Falcon, California Condor, Philippine Eagle, the Mauritius Kestrel, Orange-breasted Falcon, `Alala or Hawaiian Crow and Hawaiian forest songbirds, and other species. In addition, The Peregrine Fund is involved with numerous other programs around the world that focus on preserving endangered environments (e.g. forests, wetlands, etc.) and improving local people's conservation ability.
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