Archived 2015 topics: Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) – request for information

Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis breeds widely from Eastern Europe through Central Asia to the steppes of Mongolia, and winters in Africa and western Asia. It is currently considered Least Concern because of its large range and population; population trends are not well understood, but it is not thought to be declining by >30% over three generations (c. 50 years, based on an estimated generation length of 16.6 years).

New data collated from across Europe for the European Red List of Birds (BirdLife International 2015) indicate that the species has continued to decline, with losses in European Russia of >80% since 2000 and >90% since 1980. At regional level, it is therefore now considered to be Critically Endangered in Europe.

However, only around 10% of the species’ global breeding range occurs in Europe, so globally its status depends on trends in its Asian heartland, especially in Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China. When last discussed on this forum, a mixed pattern emerged, but overall it was felt that the species was not declining sufficiently rapidly to approach the threshold for listing as Vulnerable under criterion A (i.e. at least a 30% decline over ten years or three generations, whichever is longer).

Recent publications suggest that the species may be more at risk than previously assumed. For example, it was found to be the raptor most frequently electrocuted by power lines in a study in W Kazakhstan (Levin & Kurkin 2013). Additionally, tests on the carcasses of two individuals found at a cattle carcass dump in Rajasthan, India, showed evidence of the toxicity of diclofenac for this species (Sharma et al. 2014).

To reassess its global status, information is sought about its current population status and recent trends in its Central Asian breeding grounds, as well as its wintering grounds in S Asia, the Middle East and Africa, along with any additional information about the threats affecting this species across its range.

References

BirdLife International (2015) European Red List of Birds. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/info/euroredlist

Levin, A. S., & Kurkin, G. A. (2013) The Scope of Death of Eagles on Power Lines in Western Kazakhstan. Raptors Conservation 27: 240-244.

Sharma, A. K. et al. (2014) Diclofenac is toxic to the Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis: widening the diversity of raptors threatened by NSAID misuse in South Asia. Bird Conservation International 24: 282-286.

 

EDIT 27 July 2015:

Igor Karyakin and colleagues have provided a summary of modern population and trend estimates for Steppe Eagle, together with a list of recent references on the species- see attachment below. Combined totals from across the range are estimated at 75,780 (61,910-89,650) pairs in 1997-2011 and 31,372 (26,014-36,731) pairs in 2013-2015, with an apparent decline of 58.6%.

Aquila nipalensis Karyakin et al. 2015

EDIT 4 August 2015:

Yoav Perlman and colleagues at Israel ornithological Center / Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel have provided a summary of Steppe Eagle status in Israel – see link below.

IUCN_Israel_2015

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7 Responses to Archived 2015 topics: Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) – request for information

  1. Although I have very limited personnel experience with the species, but according to what I have seen and heard in two joint expeditions with Igor Karyakin and his colleagues in the Russian Altai (2014) and in Turkey (2015) I agree with them that the species is probably one of the most threatened raptor of the Palearctic region. The large data set of the Russian and Kazakh breeding surveys are in parallel with the findings of the migration counts, i.e. the species is sharply declining in most of its range and the age-distribution is also very bad (very high ratio of immature breeders). Karyakin and his colleagues will be able to give much more detailed information with references to their breeding survey reports.

  2. Andy Symes (BirdLife) says:

    Igor Karyakin and colleagues have provided a summary of modern population and trend estimates for Steppe Eagle, together with a list of recent references on the species – this will be posted shortly in an attached word document at the bottom of the original post. Combined totals from across the range are estimated at 75,780 (61,910-89,650) pairs in 1997-2011 and 31,372 (26,014-36,731) pairs in 2013-2015, and apparent decline of 58.6%.

  3. Andy Symes (BirdLife) says:

    Yoav Perlman and colleagues at Israel ornithological Center / Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel have provided a summary of Steppe Eagle status in Israel – see attached PDF at bottom of original text, and summary copied here:

    A substantial, though variable proportion of global population passes through Israel in spring and in autumn. 9 spring counts took place in the Eilat bottleneck between 1977 and 1998, and only in 2015 after a 17 year gap spring counts were resumed. It is worth noting that variable numbers pass in Israel away from the Eilat bottleneck and are not counted. Possibly as a result of few data, no significant change is observed between 1977 and 2015 (figure 2).

    In autumn much smaller numbers pass through western Israel and are counted during the annual soaring birds count in northern and central Israel, in collaboration with the Israel Air Force. Between 1990 and 2014 a significant decline is noted (F1, 20 = 5.588, p<0.05, figure 3). However, it is worth noting that this is a small fraction of the total population that passes in autumn, mostly over Eilat later on in autumn. Inference from the low autumn counts in northern Israel on the general trend in Israel must be cautious.

  4. Virag Vyas says:

    The species is fairly common during winter months in Gujarat (India). One of the most common raptors along with Tawny Eagle. On a normal day a birder can come across at least 10 Steppe Eagles in Great Rann of Kachchh and Little Rann of Kachchh. A Fairly Common Winter visitor to the Western India and seen in Good Numbers.

  5. Andy Symes (BirdLife) says:

    Preliminary proposals

    Based on available information, our preliminary proposal for the 2015 Red List would be to treat:

    Steppe Eagle as Endangered under criterion A2+3+4.

    Further information from across the range would still be very welcome.

    There is now a period for further comments until the final deadline of 31 August, after which the recommended categorisation will be put forward to IUCN.

    The final Red List categories will be published on the BirdLife website in late October and on the IUCN website in November, following further checking of information relevant to the assessments by both BirdLife and IUCN.

  6. Praveen J says:

    I suggest the preliminary proposal be relooked. This is one of the most common raptor in NW India, arriving in 100s and sometimes 1000s in certain garbage dumps. Steppe Eagles were unknown in south India but in last 20 years have expanded its range into many wetlands in south India and are regular winter visitors there.
    Is the perceived decline a shift in its breeding range also ?

  7. Andy Symes (BirdLife) says:

    Recommended categorisation to be put forward to IUCN

    Following further review, there have been no changes to our preliminary proposal for the 2015 Red List status of this species.

    The final categorisation will be published on the BirdLife website in late October and on the IUCN website in November, following further checking of information relevant to the assessment by BirdLife and IUCN.

Comments are closed.