Bonelli’s Eagle Monitoring Project in North Cyprus
The Bonelli’s Eagle Aquila fasciatus has a wide global distribution extending from Spain, through southern Europe and across central Asia into China.
The Bonelli’s Eagle Aquila fasciatus
The European population of the Bonelli’s Eagle is relatively small. Over 80% of this population is concentrated in far western Europe (Spain and Portugal), with other small populations of between 1 and 40 pairs distributed across other North Mediterranean countries. Considering the marked decline in the European Bonelli’s Eagle population, particularly affecting its Spanish stronghold during the late 20th century, the remaining smaller, isolated populations across the Mediterranean such as Cyprus have become more valuable to the sustainability of the species globally, particularly in providing connectivity between the Asian and Spanish strongholds. The species is therefore listed on Annex I of the EU Wild Birds Directive, Appendix II of the Bern and Bonn Conventions as well as CITES Convention.
The Cyprus population has also experienced declines. It was estimated to hold more than 50 pairs during the late 1950s. Nevertheless, by the early 1990s its population declined to less than 20 pairs. A recent study, however, estimates the Cypriot population at 31-39 pairs, making it the 4th largest in Europe. Yet, eagles nesting in North Cyprus were apparently overlooked.
The Bonelli’s Eagle in flight
The status of the population in the Five Finger Mountains of North Cyprus, where nesting is known to occur was poorly surveyed, until KUŞKOR undertook a study during the 2011 and 2012 breeding seasons and determined a good number of successful nests. In 2013 and 2014 KUŞKOR received financial support from The Ornithological Society of the Middle East (OSME) for surveying these nests and to locate new ones. During 2015 we continued these surveys through self-funding but we are hoping to carry on our studies in future with more support from national and international sponsors.
During our studies we have been able to evaluate the breeding success and reproductive output of individual pairs nesting in the Five Finger Mountain range. In addition, we identified important prey species and have pointed out threats to the species survival such as illegal poisoning targeting feral dogs and fox which will be important in developing management plans towards local protection of the species.
Relevant publications can be downloaded from our publications link
You can also watch our video which sets the scene and tells the story of a poisoned Bonelli's Eagle that we rehabilitated by clicking here.