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Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax

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 is very large, and hence does not 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)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
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

Trend justification
In Africa the population is suspected to be decreasing. Declines have been reported from northern, western and southern Africa (Global Raptors Information Network 2015). In Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger the population outside protected areas decreased by over 87% between 1969-1973 and 2000-2004, declines were also found inside protected areas (Thiollay 2007). A similar pattern was found in Cameroon (Thiollay 2007). In the Masai Mara ecosystem, Kenya, the population decreased by 28% between 1976-1988 and 2003-2005 (Virani et al. 2011).


Behaviour The species is resident across the Afrotropical, Indomalayan and fringing Palearctic regions (34°N to 31°S) but occurs in discrete populations. It is common across its range, and generally sedentary, although individuals are nomadic and will occasionally wander long distances.  In West Africa individuals will make short distance seasonal movements south into the damper woodlands during October - November and return in April (Ferguson- Lees and Christie, 2001). Habitat The species occupies dry open habitats from sea level to 3000m, and will occupy both woodland and wooded savannah.  In India it can be found near cultivated areas, settlements and slaughterhouses (Ferguson- Lees and Christie, 2001). Diet The species has a wide prey base, taking mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and occasionally fish and amphibians.  It will also regularly consume carrion and pirate other raptors' prey (Ferguson- Lees and Christie, 2001). Breeding Site Nesting occurs on a large stick platform that may also incorporate animal bones, and is located on top of tall isolated trees or occasionally on top of a pylon. The breeding season in Africa spans March to August in the north, October to June in the West, April to January in central and southern areas, and year-round (but mainly May-November) in Kenya. In India the season spans November to August (Ferguson- Lees and Christie, 2001).

The species has declined in the farmed areas of eastern and southern Africa, apparently as a result of consuming poisoned carcasses. In western and north-east Africa declines have been reported but the causes are not known. In general the species's opportunistic behaviour suggests it is resistant to the usual threats (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001) although long term changes in rainfall patterns could affect the breeding success of the species in future (Wichmann et al. 2004). In South Africa it has been known to drown in farmland reservoirs (Anderson et al. 1999) and birds have been killed through collisions with power lines (Global Raptor Information Network 2015). Direct persecution and collisions with road vehicles when scavenging have also been identified as threats (Global Raptor Information Network 2015). Accidental poisoning has also been reported (Brown 1991).

Anderson, M. D.; Maritz, A. W. A.; Oosthuysen, E. 1999. Raptors drowning in farm reservoirs in South Africa. Ostrich 70(2): 139-144.

Brown, C.J. 1991. Declining martial Polemaetus bellicosus and tawny Aquila rapax eagle populations and causes of mortality on farmlands in central Namibia. Biological Conservation 56(1): 49-62.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J. 1994. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 2: New World Vultures to Guineafowl. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

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

Global Raptors Information Network. 2015. Species account: Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax. Available at: (Accessed: 01/07.2015).

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

Virani, M.; Kendall, C.; Njoroge, P.; Thomsett, S. 2011. Major declines in the abundance of vultures and other scavenging raptors in and around the Masai Mara ecosystem, Kenya. Biological Conservation 144: 746-752.

Wichmann, M. C., Dean, W. R. J., Jeltsch, F. 2004. Global change challenges the Tawny Eagle (Aquila rapax): modelling extinction risk with respect to predicted climate and land use changes. Ostrich 75: 204-210.

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., Harding, M. & Ashpole, J

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Aquila rapax. Downloaded from on 02/12/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 02/12/2015.

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 - Tawny eagle (Aquila rapax) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles)
Species name author (Temminck, 1828)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 17,600,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change