Programa de Conservacion del Aguila Harpia en Venezuela

Programa de Conservación del Aguila Harpía en Venezuela

Programa de Conservacion del Aguila Harpia en Venezuela

Programa de Conservación del Aguila Harpía en Venezuela


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About Us

Introduction

The Harpy Eagle is considered the biggest raptor in the Americas and the most powerful raptor in the world. Its biggest threats are habitat loss, fire, mining, logging and fish farms. For these reasons it’s considered to be “nearly threatened” according to the Red List of the IUCN, and as a Vulnerable species in the Red Book of Venezuelan wildlife.

Rationale

The VHEPC’s primary goal is to build knowledge and consciousness about the harpy in local populations and show the advantages of conservation and wildlife management.

Our activities are multi-tiered, involving local, regional and national levels. We aim to strengthen conservation programs more in wildlife than with captive animals without diminishing environmental education and community support, getting everyone involved in all aspects of the scientific investigation and preservation of this emblematic species of our diverse wildlife.

The success of the program has come about mainly by involving rural communities (including farmers and indigenous populations) in a process of planning and education, aimed at conserving the harpy eagle and its habitat, and reminding them of the benefits that these programs bring in terms of sustainable economic activities. We’re also winning the active participation of community members in the observational work, investigational methods and data collection for biological, ecological and medical research.

Main Objective

To complete the study of the biological and ecological parameters, population dynamics of the eagle in its native habitat in southeastern Venezuela:

The program focuses on gaining the cooperation of the local people and government agencies and other organizations to participate in the development and conservation of natural resources, strengthening local capacity for conservation, training local residents in the tracking of eagles and giving them incentive to explore and protect the Venezuelan ecosystem and biodiversity, while  establishing the first reference points for further international study.

1.  Continual evaluation, monitoring, and protection of the nests already found, as well as finding other nests with the help of local communities.

2.  Tracking to determine the limits of territories used by the harpy eagles.

3.  Study the quantity and amount of prey to evaluate the ecosystem’s biodiversity.

4.  Determine the dispersion patterns of young adult eagles to guarantee the specie’s survival.

Methods

1.  Interview local inhabitants, search for nests, and create a register of documented individual eagles.

2.  Define nest sites and evaluate the type of habitat used by the eagles.

3.  Host community talks and other information sessions, and train residents and other local participant organizations.

4.  Collect and identify prey to monitor the biodiversity of wildlife.

5.  Capture nestlings, juveniles, and adult eagles at nest sites to identify, study morphology, and biomedical analysis.

6.  Affix transmission collars (VHF or satellite) for better tracking, protection of nests of the eagles being studied.

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Results

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From 1989 to present, we have found and registered more than 90 nests, and we are constantly monitoring their activity and breeding cycles. The Guyana region is where we’ve found the greatest nest concentration (78). For this reason, we’ve focused most of our effort on the biological, ecological, and population study of this species here, without omitting other eco-regions important in the scientific study of the harpy eagle.

With the data obtained from our telemetric equipment, we’ve been able to produce maps for field biologists and forest rangers. We’ve also been able to use GPS data to create maps of Harpy Eagle nest sites.

We have affixed 25 harpy eagles with telemetry devices with satellite capability.

By obtaining geo-reference points we can track the changes in the overall habits of the eagles and determine territories and specific habits of certain individuals.

Tracking to determine the distribution and breadth of habitat used by the eagles.

Determine the pattern of dispersion of juvenile eagles.

Summary

The Venezuelan Harpy Eagle Conservation Program has studied 90 nests in its 20 years of existence, including 78 in the Guyana region: the largest number of harpy eagles in our country.

Struggling with economic limits and sponsorship, the team has nevertheless continued working to sustain the program, creating an international reference point for developing similar projects in other Latin American countries.

The Harpy Eagle, as a flagship species and apex (top-of-foodchain) predator, has permitted us to evaluate the health of entire ecosystems where it lives: in this way we can establish protected zones for both the eagle and the flora and fauna which share its domain.

Community participation has been fundamental in recent years in the location and tracking of eagle nesting sites and habitat, helping our investigative team in their conservation work and studies.

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