Initial deadline for comments: 31 January 2012.
Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca breeds from south-eastern Europe to central Asia and winters in north-eastern Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian Subcontinent and southern and eastern Asia. It is currently listed as Vulnerable under criterion C2a(ii) on the IUCN Red List, because when last assessed its global population was considered small (<10,000 mature individuals) and suspected to be undergoing continuing declines, primarily as a result of habitat loss and degradation, adult mortality through persecution and collision with power-lines, nest robbing and prey depletion.
Significant progress in implementing the species action plan (Heredia 1996) in its European range has led to positive results – a well-documented increase in the entire Carpathian population between 2001 and 2010 (Wichmann 2011, Horal 2011, Danko et al. 2011, Horváth et al. 2011) and stabilisation of the population in the Balkans (Anon. 2008, Barov and Derhé 2011). The population in Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan is now considered relatively stable, particularly in the European part (Karyakin et al. 2011), as well as now being encouragingly large and much better studied than before (Anon. 2008). A detailed study in European Turkey during 2008-2010 reported a stable, well-distributed population of 30-50 pairs (Demerdzhiev et al. 2008). A population decline has been recorded in Greece, Macedonia and Serbia, although these populations represent a very small proportion of the global population (c.20-35 pairs [Demerdzhiev et al. 2011]).
Russia and Kazakhstan hold the largest populations of the species, with 3,000-3,500 pairs in Russia and 3,500-4,000 pairs in Kazakhstan (Karyakin et al. 2008) – a large increase from previous estimates of 900-1,000 pairs in Russia (Belik et al. 2002) and 750-800 pairs in Kazakhstan (Bragin 1999). In both cases, these populations are stable or increasing overall (Karyakin et al. 2011). However, some populations outside Europe are still declining. In recent years, numbers in the area surrounding Lake Baikal have declined dramatically (>40% during 1983-1998) and this population is now extremely small, fragmented and vulnerable. From c.300 pairs in the 1960s (Ryabtsev 2000), the population in the west of the Baikal region declined to 40 pairs in 1999 (Ryabtsev 1999) and to 25-30 pairs in 2005-2007 (Ryabtsev 2006; Ryabtsev and Miller 2008).
The Mongolian population decreased from 40-50 pairs in 2000 to possible extinction by 2010 (Bukreev et al. 2010). It is suspected that this abrupt decrease could have been due to a combination of extensive bromadiolone rodenticide use in Mongolia in 2002 (Karyakin pers. comm. to Bukreev et al. 2010), along with unfavourable changes in migration and wintering grounds in China (direct extermination, use of pesticides and deterioration of food potential) (Ryabstev 1999, 2000). In mainland China, the species is an uncommon breeder in the north-west and a scarce passage migrant and winter visitor in the south (BirdLife International 2001). Very few data are available for the Chinese population, and so comments or information on current population sizes and trends there would be welcomed.
In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 1,800-2,200 breeding pairs (Demerdzhiev et al. 2011), up from the previous estimate of 850-1,400 breeding pairs, or 2,550-4,200 individuals (BirdLife International 2004). Combining this current estimate from European with recent data from regional surveys in non-European Russia and Kazakhstan puts the global population at 6,900-8,050 pairs, or 13,800-16,100 mature individuals, a considerable increase from the previous estimate of 5,200-16,800 individuals (BirdLife International 2008).
Overall, between 2000 and 2010, a sevenfold increase was documented in the number of known breeding pairs in Europe (Demerdzhiev et al. 2011). It should be noted that this considerable difference is mainly due to increased survey effort, rather than a genuine and large population increase. However, based on the results of regional surveys in range countries, the species can be considered to be at least stable and probably increasing in Europe (Demerdzhiev et al. 2011). The population outside Europe can be considered likely to be stable or increasing (Anon. 2008), since the population trend in Kazakhstan and Russia is generally positive overall (Karyakin et al. 2011). Globally therefore, the species is thought to be stable or possibly increasing.
This suggests that the species’s global status ought to be revised to Near Threatened under criterion C2a(ii), on the basis that it has a moderately small population, which may approach the threshold for classification as Vulnerable, but which is not currently thought to be undergoing a continuing decline. Comments on this proposal and any relevant information (including recent information on breeding and wintering population trends from any other parts of its global range) are invited.
Anon. (2008) The 6th International Conference on the Conservation of the Eastern Imperial Eagle. Resolution, 4-7 September 2008, Topolovgrad, Bulgaria. Raptors Conserv.14: 14-16.
Barov, B. and Derhé, M. (2011) Review of the implementation of species action plans of threatened birds in the European Union (2004-2010) Final Report. BirdLife International for the European Commission. http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/conservation/wildbirds/action_plans/docs/Final%20report%20BirdLife%20review%20SAPs.pdf
Belik, V., Galushin, V. and Bogomolov, D. (2002) Results of the Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) Project in Russia during 1996 and 1997. Aquila 107-108: 177-181.
BirdLife International (2001) Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International.
BirdLife International (2004) Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International.http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/userfiles/file/Species/BirdsInEuropeII/BiE2004Sp3535.pdf
BirdLife International (2008) Species factsheet: Aquila heliaca. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 11/11/2011.
Bragin, E. A. (1999) Status of the Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) in Kazakhstan. – In: 3rd Eurasian Conference of the Raptor Research Foundation, Mikulov, Czech Republic. 21-26 September 1999. – Buteo, supplement.
Bukreev, S. A., Boldbataar, S. and Zvonov, B. M. (2010) The Imperial Eagle in Mongolia. Raptors Conserv. 20: 186-194.
Danko, Š., Chavko, J., Demeter, G., Mihók, J., Izakovič, J., Latková, H., Siryová, S., Noga, M. and Nemček, V. (2011) Conservation of Imperial Eagle in the Slovak part of the Carpathian basin – Results of the EU LIFE – Nature project (2003-2007). Acta Zoologica Bulgarica. Suppl. 3: 71-78.
Demerdzhiev, D., Horváth, M., Kovács, A., Stoychev, S. and Karyakin, I. (2011) Status and population trend of the Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) in Europe in the period 2000-2010. Acta Zoologica Bulgarica. Suppl. 3: 5-14.
Demerdzhiev, D., Stoychev, S., Angelov, I., Terziev, N., Chetin, T. (2008) Distribution, numbers and habitats of Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) in the European part of Turkey. 6th International Conference on the Conservation of the Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) 5-7 September 2008, Topolovgrad, Bulgaria.
Heredia, B. (1996) International action plan for the Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca). In: Heredia, B., Rose, L., Painter, M. (eds.) Globally threatened birds in Europe: action plans, pp. 159-174. Strasbourg: Council of Europe, and BirdLife International.
Horal, D. (2011) Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) in the Czech Republic. Acta Zoologica Bulgarica, Suppl. 3: 55-59.
Horváth, M., Demeter, I., Fatér, I., Firmánszky, G., Kleszó, A., Kovács, A., Szitta, T., Tóth, I., Zalai, T. and Bagyura, J. (2011) Population dynamics of the Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) in Hungary between 2001 and 2009. Acta Zoologica Bulgarica, Suppl. 3: 61-70.
Karyakin, I., Niklenko, E., Levin, A. and Kovalenko, A. (2008) Imperial Eagle in Russia and Kazakhstan: Population status and trends. Raptor Conservation 14: 18-27.
Karyakin, I., Niklenko, E., Levin, A. and Kovalenko, A. (2011) Imperial Eagle in Russia and Kazakhstan: Population status and trends. Acta Zoologica Bulgarica. Suppl. 3: 95-104.
Ryabtsev, V. V. (1999) Imperial Eagle in Siberia. – Imperial Eagle: distribution, status of populations and prospects for Imperial Eagle protection (Aquila heliaca) in Russia. Rare birds series, 1: 54-61. (In Russian).
Ryabtsev, V. V. (2000) Eagles of Baikal. Irkutsk: Taltsy Press. 174 pp. (In Russian).
Ryabtsev, V. V. (2006) The Pribaikalskii population of the Imperial Eagle: the last ditch/ Ornithological research in northern Eurasia: Theses XII International Ornithological Conference of northern Eurasia. Stavropol: SGU Publishers: pp 460-461. (In Russian).
Ryabtsev, V. V. and Miller, S. (2008) Results of surveys of birds of prey carried out in the summer of 2007 in forest-steppe areas of western Pribaikalye/ Study and protection of birds of prey of northern Eurasia: Materials of the V International Conference on Birds of Prey of northern Eurasia. Ivanovo, 4-7 February 2008. – Ivanovo: Ivan. State Univ., pp 295-296. (In Russian).
Wichmann, G. (2011) The situation of the Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca Savigny 1809 in Austria. Acta Zoologica Bulgarica. Suppl. 3: 37-40.