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Crowned Eagle Stephanoaetus coronatus
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species has been uplisted to Near Threatened because evidence of widespread threats suggests that its population is in moderately rapid decline.

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.

Distribution and population
Stephanoaetus coronatus is a widespread resident of sub-Saharan Africa, occurring in easternmost Sudan and South Sudan, western Ethiopia, southernmost Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and southern Togo, southern Nigeria and Cameroon, through Gabon, into Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo, south to north-western Angola, east to Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, south-east through Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique, to northern and eastern Zimbabwe, north-eastern, eastern and south-eastern South Africa and Swaziland (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). The species's range in Malawi is regarded as certainly decreasing, and habitat clearance there is expected to be impacting the species (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2006). It has also declined in southern Mozambique owing to forest destruction along the coast (Parker 1999). The negative effects of habitat loss in South Africa are regarded as being partly offset by the establishment of exotic plantations (Hockey et al. 2005 and references therein). The species is thought to be in decline overall as a result of a suite of widespread threats, including direct persecution and competition from humans for prey species, in addition to habitat loss.

Population justification
Ferguson-Lees and Christie (2001) estimate that total the population could number in the upper thousands, although given its range this is perhaps likely to be an underestimate and they also state that, for this reason, an estimate of tens of thousands might be expected. On this basis, the population is estimated at 5,000-50,000 mature individuals until better information becomes available.

Trend justification
This species is threatened by persecution through trapping, shooting and nest destruction, competition for prey from humans, and habitat loss through deforestation (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). This suite of widespread threats implies that the species is in moderately rapid decline, especially considering its slow reproductive rate (Thomsett 2011), although the decline is currently not thought to be more severe, owing to the species's tolerance of modified habitats.

It inhabits forest, woodland, savanna and shrubland, as well as some modified habitats, such as plantations and secondary growth (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001), and can persist in small forest fragments (Dowsett-Lemaire and Dowsett 2006). It shows high resilience to heavy deforestation and degradation in some areas (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012), although such changes are assumed to cause local declines in population density.

Although the species is welcomed by foresters in some areas, it is subjected to a number of significant threats throughout much of its range, including deforestation (carried out for timber extraction, charcoal production, the encroachment of agriculture and plantations, shifting cultivation and mining), competition from humans for prey species (with apparently unsustainable levels of exploitation for bushmeat in some areas), direct persecution in an estimated 90% of its range (e.g. for food, arrow-fletching, witchcraft, ornaments and its pest status and threat to humans) and human disturbance (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001, Hockey et al. 2005, Thomsett 2011). In Ghana, it is threatened by deforestation and hunting, including of its main prey (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012). Some once-occupied areas in Ghana have now been almost totally deforested, whilst others, such as Bosomoa Forest Reserve, have been converted to teak plantations (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2012). The species may have altered its diet to partly accommodate declines in primate abundance in parts of Ghana, but its population is unlikely not to have been affected by such a dramatic decline in its prey base (which has probably worsened further since the mid-1990s) (B. Phalan in litt. 2012). Although the species appears to be doing well at Udzungwa, Tanzania, it may be absent as a breeding species from several areas (e.g. Uzungwa scarp, Kising’a-Rugaro, New Dabaga), owing to prey depletion by humans (T. Jones in litt. 2012). In Nigeria, it seems likely that the population has been impacted by widespread forest clearance in the south of the country (P. Hall in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Underway
The species occurs in a number of protected areas across its vast range.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct regular surveys to monitor populations at selected sites throughout its range. Monitor rates of habitat loss and degradation across its range. Carry out research into the impacts of human competition for prey species. Increase the total area of suitable habitat that is protected. Conduct education activities to reduce direct persecution and hunting pressure on prey species.

Dowsett-Lemaire, F.; Dowsett, R. J. 2006. The birds of Malawi: an atlas and handbook. Touraco Press/Aves, Liege, Belgium.

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

Hockey, P. A. R.; Dean, W. R. J.; Ryan, P. G. 2005. Roberts birds of southern Africa. Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town, South Africa.

Parker, V. 1999. The atlas of the birds of Sul do Save, southern Mozambique. Avian Demography Unit and Endangered Wildlife Trust., Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Thomsett, S. 2011. Simon Thomsett on the African Crowned Eagle. Available at:

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
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Harding, M., Taylor, J.

Baker, N., Cizek, A., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Ewbank, D., Hall, P., Jones, T., Lindsell, J., Phalan, B., Plumptre, A., Pomeroy, D.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Stephanoaetus coronatus. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

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 - Crowned hawk-eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles)
Species name author (Linnaeus, 1766)
Population size 5000-50000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 6,610,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change