Europe and Central Asia
30 Sep 2013

NABU tracks migrating eagles to find trouble spots

Lesser Spotted Eagle (Johann du Preez)

Twelve Lesser Spotted Eagles Aquila pomarina from Germany are carrying extra luggage on their autumn migration to Africa: lightweight GPS transmitters fitted by NABU, the BirdLife Partner in Germany.

Globally, Lesser Spotted Eagle is not considered threatened, but the population in Germany is down to around 100 pairs and still falling. The scientific name translates as “Pomeranian Eagle”, and Western-Mecklenburg Pomerania is still the bird’s stronghold in Germany. NABU has been taking action for the eagle, protecting its breeding and feeding habitats, and buying land around its breeding territories.

But the migrating birds are at risk from hunters or poisoning, and many young eagles are killed before they reach breeding age. The 30 gram backpack transmitters enable NABU to follow the migration route, using both signals transmitted via satellite to ground stations, and in a newer development, mobile phone networks to transmit position data.

Once the route is established, and potential trouble spots identified, work can begin to protect the eagles. One vehicle will be the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia, which 45 nations have now signed. BirdLife is a co-operating partner and signatory to the MoU, which aims “to promote internationally coordinated actions to achieve and maintain the favourable conservation status of migratory birds of prey throughout their range in the African-Eurasian region, and to reverse their decline when and where appropriate”. Follow the birds on their journeys

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