Martial Eagle Polemaetus bellicosus has an extensive range across much of sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal and the Gambia, east to Ethiopia and north-west Somalia and south to Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. It is currently listed as Near Threatened because it approaches the thresholds for Vulnerable under criterion A2acde; it is suspected to have undergone moderately rapid declines over the past three generations (c.56 years in this species [BirdLife International, unpubl. data]), owing to habitat loss and incidental poisoning and pollution. However, recent information suggests that this species may have undergone more rapid declines than previously thought.
It is generally scarce to uncommon or rare, but is reasonably common in some areas; the global population has previously been estimated at 10,000-100,000 individuals (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). It is suspected to have undergone declines in much of its range, including Namibia (C. Brown in litt. 2009) and Nigeria (P. Hall in litt. 2009). Recent mapping of this species’s distribution suggests that its range has decreased in Southern Africa over the past few decades, and that it is no longer doing well even in large conservation areas such as the Kruger National Park, South Africa (Underhill 2012). Also, there has only been one report of Martial Eagle in Niger since 1997 (J. Brouwer in litt. 2012).
Although the overall rate of decline is difficult to quantify, if there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the population has declined by at least 30% over the past 56 years (three generations), this species would warrant uplisting to Vulnerable under criterion A2 of the IUCN Red List. If the population has reduced by at least 50% during this period, it would warrant uplisting to Endangered.
Further information is required on this species’s population size and trends, and comments on its proposed uplisting are welcome.
Ferguson-Lees, J. and Christie, D. A. (2001) Raptors of the world. London, UK: Christopher Helm.
Underhill, L. (2012) Martial Eagles spiral downwards. Available at: http://sabap2.adu.org.za/news.php?id=2384
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