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Brown Snake-eagle Circaetus cinereus

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number in the tens of thousands.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be decreasing in West Africa. Thiollay (2007) reported a decline in abundance from 1.4 birds/100 km in 1969-1973 to 0.2 birds/100 km in 2003-2004 outside protected areas in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and northern Cameroon.

In West Africa, loss of woodland habitat and overgrazing threaten the species (Kemp and Marks 2014). Application of pesticides in cultivated areas increases the risk of poisoning whilst overfishing and hunting may have reduced prey availability (Thiollet 2007).

Ferguson-Lees, J. and Christie, D.A. 2001. Raptors of the world. Christopher Helm, London.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: (Accessed: 19 November 2015).

Kemp, A.C. and Marks, J.S. 2014. Brown Snake-eagle (Circaetus cinereus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. and de Juana, E. (eds), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Thiollay, J.-M. 2007. Raptor population decline in West Africa. Ostrich 78(2): 405-413.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S. & Ashpole, J

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Circaetus cinereus. Downloaded from on 26/11/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/11/2015.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Brown snake eagle (Circaetus cinereus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles)
Species name author Vieillot, 1818
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 11,500,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change