Africa once again risks losing more of its birds of prey, including some iconic ones. Martial Eagles, Secretarybirds and Bateleurs are the latest African raptors uplisted to Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
The three recently joined the alarming growing list of threatened African raptors, which includes seven vulture species. Poisoning, either primary or secondary, is a common cause of the rapid decline of the raptor populations, as is the case with vultures. Other drivers linked to the decrease in numbers include electrocution and collision with power lines, habitat degradation and nest disturbance.
Martial eagles top the list as the largest eagles in Africa. These mighty eagles can weigh up to 6.5 kg and prey mostly on other birds, reptiles and even mammals. Martial eagles have incredible eyesight and are capable of spotting prey up to 6 km away! The current estimate of remaining Martial eagles remains unknown.
Easily identifiable by their conspicuously long legs and dramatic black crests of feathers on the back of their heads, Secretarybirds are endemic to Africa’s savannas, grasslands, and shrub lands. Unlike other birds of prey, Secretarybirds hunt on the ground instead of from the air. Their diet consists of small rodents, amphibians, and reptiles. BirdLife International puts the current population of Secretarybirds at between 6,700 to 67,000 individuals. Human induced threats and prolonged droughts top the list of threats facing this species whose adults do not have a natural predator.
Bateleurs are mid-sized eagles native to Africa and small parts of Arabia. These colourful raptors have bushy heads and very short tails. These, together with their white underwing coverts, make them unmistakable in flight. No data is available for the Bateleur’s population.
Another raptor uplisted to the Endangered category is the Saker Falcon, the strongest and fastest falcon species on earth.