Aquila pomarina – a victim of human activities
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 December 2010 10:21 Written by Administrator Tuesday, 07 December 2010 09:40
More and more birds die because of human activities. A. Pomarina is also affected by the evil effects of intensive agriculture, irresponsible hunting, massive cuttings, wind farms mounted on the birds’ migratory routes etc. These activities affect the birds both during the nesting period and during their migration to Africa.
Dangers in the migration period
In mid September the lesser spotted eagles migrated to warmer climates with more abundant feed. The most hurried of them all was Adel, one of the six lesser spotted eagles which the members of the Milvus Group Association equipped with satellite transmitters within the LIFE project „Conservation of Aquila Pomarina in Romania”.
Although the bird did manage to cross the „death zone” as the ornithologists call the migratory route going over the territory of Lebanon and Syria where several migrating predatory birds had been shot in the past. Adel did not find her way to pass from Minor Asia to Africa. The bird’s route followed the coast of the Sinai Peninsula and after several unsuccessful attempts to identify the road to Africa the bird headed towards the water treatment station of the town of Naama, in Egypt. The bird died on 15 November 2010, most likely due to the repeated consumption of residual water (see the migration map at the address http://www.pomarina.ro/pomarina.html).
Another major danger encountered by the A. pomarina in its migration from northern Europe to the wintering areas in the south of Africa are the wind farms placed in the so called „funnel necks” like the area of Dobrogea. Yearly, thousands of birds pass through Dobrogea on a day and some of them do not manage to pass through the turbine blades.
Dangers in the nesting period
These are just a few of the threats A. pomarina is subject to during migration. To these are added the dangers which threaten the birds when they are nesting in Romania. One of the biggest issues if the hunting of these predatory birds which are seen as a threat to the species of interest for hunters, especially hares and pheasants. Although the ornithological data show that predatory birds do not feed on these species of game, they continue to be a target for hunters.
The cutting down of old forests destroys the nesting habitats of the lesser spotted eagle, the abandonment of the grasslands and the use of pesticides in agriculture lead to the deterioration of the feeding habitats, the lack of insulation of the medium voltage poles lead to the electrocution of the birds and the list of problems may continue. All these are causes of human activity which endanger the lesser spotted eagle and had its population declared endangered. Worldwide there are only approximately 20,000 nesting pairs and Romania provides one of the most important nesting areas of the species. Following the most recent studies, the population of A. pomarina in Romania is estimated to be between 2000 – 2300 pairs which is approximately 22% of the species population in the EU and 10% of the global population.
The LIFE project „Conservation of Aquila Pomarina in Romania”
The LIFE project „Conservation of Aquila Pomarina in Romania” implemented by the Sibiu Regional Environmental Protection Agency together with its partners the Milvus Group Association for the Protection of Birds and Nature and the Romanian Ornithological Society is trying to answer some of these issues.
The solutions implemented through this project will consist in the stabilisation of at least 100 nests and the construction of at least 100 new nesting platforms, awareness raising among a number of 4500 farmers regarding the species friendly grasslands management activities, at least 75 nests protected through the establishment of a buffer zone in the forested areas, at least 20 nests protected through the construction of access restriction barriers in these areas, at least 10 nests protected through the deviation of the tourist trails, the reduction by 50% of the problems caused by hunters and hunting associations, 1500 high voltage poles insulated so as to avoid the electrocution of birds, 54 informational boards placed in the special protection areas, 1200 of pupils informed.
Why is it important to conserve the lesser spotted eagle?
Although the term of predatory bird has a negative connotation to the large public, the lesser spotted eagle is important because it brings benefits to man. If we refer only to the fact that the bird feeds on small rodents and big insects such as locusts we may say that the lesser spotted eagle protects man’s crops from the negative effects of these pests.
The presence of the lesser spotted eagle in a certain area is a sign that chemical pesticides and fertilisers are not used abundantly and this recommends the products from those areas as healthy.
Although in western countries rare birds are hunted with a photo camera only, in Romania we are just at the beginning of eco-touristic activities such as „bird watching”. This activity may be promoted as a form of tourism in those areas where the lesser spotted eagle nests. And examples of possible benefits brought by the presence of A. pomarina may continue.
Instead of The end
The Romanian coat of arms shows an eagle which says that we have always admired the majesty of this bird. So as not to contemplate these rare birds only as symbols on coats of arms, bank notes, effigies and so on, the man may try to adapt his activities to make sure that their impact on the lesser spotted eagle in particular and on nature in general is as low as possible.