By Guille Mayor and Elchin Sultanov, Tue, 12/04/2016 - 09:07
The Eastern Imperial Eagle is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Its global population estimates range from 3,500 to 15,000 individuals. This embattled bird is a lowland species whose population is globally declining and that has been pushed to higher altitudes by persecution and habitat loss in Europe. In central and eastern Europe, it breeds in forests up to 1.000 m above sea level, in steppe and agricultural areas with large trees, and nowadays also on electricity pylons.
Breeding sites are threatened by intensive forestry in the mountains, and by the shortage of large indigenous trees in the lowlands. Other threats are shortages of small and medium-sized prey species, loss of habitat to agriculture, human disturbance of breeding sites, nest robbing and illegal trade, shooting, poisoning and electrocution by powerlines.
Neighbouring countries Georgia and Azerbaijan are doing their bit to save this species from extinction.
In Georgia, the species has its main breeding grounds in the east of the country, a vast bushy steppe and farmland area. According to recent surveys, no more than 40 breeding pairs remain in the country, mainly restricted to nesting in riverine forests and electric pylons due to the lack of suitable trees to build nests in throughout the land.
Since November 2015, SABUKO (Society for Nature Conservation) is carrying out conservation activities to improve the status of the Eastern Imperial Eagle (Aquila heliaca) through direct conservation measures, awareness raising and education.
Before the start of the project, funded and supported by CLP (Conservation Leadership Programme), several breeding surveys were carried out during 2014 and 2015 to assess the population size of the Eastern Imperial Eagle in Georgia and the locations of the nests. Several abandoned electric pylons were also checked for suitability to install artificial nests, as the species is known to nest in them in some countries in the Balkans.