Title: Neotropical raptor network newsletter= Boletín de la red de rapaces neotropicales= boletim a rede de aves de rapina neotropicales
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00099464/00011
 Material Information
Title: Neotropical raptor network newsletter= Boletín de la red de rapaces neotropicales= boletim a rede de aves de rapina neotropicales
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Publisher: Peregrine Fund
Place of Publication: Boise, Idaho
Publication Date: December 2008
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00099464
Volume ID: VID00011
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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Re de s Raae -eotoiae emR


NationalDay of the
Condor in Ecuador

III Neotropical Rap-
tor Conference
Orange-breasted Fal-
con. Belize
Raptor Survey.
Hapy Eagle in
Darien, Panama
Environmental Edu-
cation. Panama

Upcoming Conferences

New Books and

Andean Condor, Nature and Culture in

Ecuador By Patricio Meza Saltos, Asociaci6n Cultura & Tierra (ACT), Proyecto
Kuntur- SIMBIOE / The Peregrine Fund, proyectocondor_ecuador@hotmail.com

En Ecuador, step by step.
The majestic Andean Condor
(Vultur gryphus) is found through-
out the Andes Mountain Range.
To many it represents identity,
freedom and strength, and it was
once considered to be an inter-
mediary spirit between the sun
and the earth. In 1991, July 7th
was declared the official National
Day of the Andean Condor in
Ecuador. On this day, The Ecua-
dorian Ornithological Corpora-
tion (CECIA) hosted a variety of
activities related to condor con-
servation. Perhaps the most im-
portant activity was the first
"Census Walk", where partici-
pants counted condors at 40 dif-
ferent sites along the mountain
range. This effort provided a pro-
visional estimate of 42 condors in
the country. The same organiza-
tion conducted another census in
1996, and estimated the condor
population to be at about
100 individuals in the wild.

Culture. Monument of a condor hunting a calf on display in
a city park in Angel, Ecuador

Later, in 1999, Yanez &
Yanez identified two nests,
six roosting sites, and some
preferred feeding areas of
the Andean Condor in the
Ecological Reserves of
Cayambe-Coca and Cota-
cachi-Cayapas, in the north-
ern part of the country.

In 2002, Yanez & Cevallos
began an Andean Condor
Conservation Project, whose
main goal was to determine
the actual number of wild
condors in the country. The
results were alarming only
70 individuals were docu-
mented. Lack of food, hun-

28-30 OCTOBER 2009

The Neotropical Raptor Network presents the III Neotropical Raptor Conference which will
be held in Bogota, Colombia on 28-30 October, 2009. The goal of the conference is to pro-
mote communication and interaction among raptor enthusiasts that live, study or work in the
Some conference highlights will include: a pre-conference workshop on biomedicine; a sym-
posium on the conservation of birds of prey; and a workshop led by several of the authors of
the book Raptor Research and Management Techniques which will cover such topics as marking
and capture Techniques, raptor identification, and reproduction.
For more information, visit: www.neotropicalraptors.org

Understanding the Orange-breasted Falcon Population in

Belize By Yeray Seminario, The Peregrine Fund, yerasdy@gmail.com

Arriving on a private flight from Wyo-
ming, five rare Orange-breasted Falcon
(Falco deiroleucus) chicks landed at the
airport in Belize on 26 June, 2008. This
was the third year that The Peregrine
Fund has released young individuals of
this species in Belize, as part of the
study and conservation of this bird in
Our work with Orange-breasted Fal-
cons (OBFs) includes studying the
remnant population in Belize, Guate-
mala and Panama; searching for new
pairs; and conducting experimental
releases in the Mountain Pine Ridge in
There are multiple reasons that these
releases are being carried out. First,
they are a means to learn as much as
possible about the behavior of the spe-
cies and problems that might arise dur-
ing the release. This knowledge can
serve to then maximize the survival of
young birds prior to their dispersal.
Second, releasing unrelated individuals
is a way to enhance the genetic fitness
of the local population.
Preliminary data suggest that this
Northernmost OBF population,
thought to be isolated by some 900
miles from the largely unknown South
American population, may be declin-

ing. We are trying to identify those
factors contributing to this apparent
decline in both occupied nesting sites
and productivity. More time is needed
to understand exactly what is happen-
ing with the OBF population in Belize
and Guatemala, but these experimental
releases are adding genetic diversity to
this small population.

One of the 7 wild juveniles that hatched I
in Belize this year.

The young falcons are bred in climate
controlled breeding chambers in Wolf,
Wyoming by Robert B. Berry, one of
the founders of The Peregrine Fund,

and the Director of the OBF Program.
Once they arrive in Belize, the young
falcons are transported to the Moun-
tain Pine Ridge, in the Maya Moun-
tains, a truly unique granite ecosystem
surrounded by Belizean rainforest,
consisting of poor acidic clay soils that
sustain dense pine trees Pinus Caribaea
and low thickets (Tripsacum latifoium,
Miconia albicans and Dicranopteris pecti-
nata, among others). A plague of Pine
Beetles (Dendroctonus frontais) in 1999
drastically changed the landscape of
the Mountain Pine Ridge, killing ap-
proximately 90% of the pines, and,
similar to fire, may have improved the
foraging opportunities for the resident
falcon population.
The young falcons are released
through a technique called "hacking",
more specifically through a method
known as "tame-hack," in which the
young birds are raised by hand in small
groups to prevent imprinting, but are
quite tame. This technique was coinci-
dentally successful in the release of
Aplomado Falcons (Falcofemorais) con-
ducted by The Peregrine Fund in
Texas, and it has worked very well with
the Orange-breasted Falcons.
The hack site consists of a wooden
box set atop a platform, situated on the

Three Orange-breasted Falcon juveniles, released by The Released falcons are fitted with a band and a leg-mount
Peregrine Fund in Mountain Pine Ridge, Belize transmitter to help monitor their movements after dispersal.

Wild adult Orange-breasted Falcon in Buena Vista, Guatemala

top of a live pine tree, all of which is
easily accessible with a ladder. The trunk
of the tree is surrounded by a small
moat, which helps prevent potentially
harmful ants from climbing the tree, as
well as sheets of aluminum to help stop
land predators from climbing up to the
box. On one side of the box there is a
door which allows us to enter if neces-
sary. One entire side is barred and
screened so that the falcons can interact
visually with the outside world.
The falcons are ideally released at be-
tween 35-45 days of age, though we
have released birds older than that both
with and without any problems. Once
the birds are released they are fed quail
two times a day: first thing in the morn-
ing and then again in the late afternoon.
During this time, the falcons exhibit
much curiosity by exploring the plat-
form and remaining alert to predators.
They are very vocal and communicate
frequently with each other, often sound-
ing the alarm when they detect the pres-
ence of danger. The Black and White
Hawk Eagle (Spizastur melanoleucus) has
been a major predator to the OBF re-
lease program.
Without a doubt, one of the most excit-
ing moments is the first flight. This hap-
pens usually when they are between 50-

60 days of age, although the males are
often more precocious. As a general
rule, the first flights are awkward and
uncontrolled, but after only a few
tries, they fly like experts, although
they still need quite a bit more time
(up to three months) to develop their
ability to capture prey in flight. Ulti-
mately, their strength, body weight,
large feet and beak enable them to
capture prey of considerable size, in-
cluding psitacids that could seriously
harm even an adult falcon with their
strong bills.
The first flight is also one of the most
critical moments in the release proc-
ess. If the falcon has become suffi-
ciently bonded to the release site, it
will return within a few hours or a day
or two in order to feed. If the falcon
does not return on its own, there is a
risk that it will become lost, and po-
tentially die due to hunger or dehydra-
tion. It is important to track these
falcons during this critical time, so
they are fitted with radio transmitters.
Thanks to this technology, we were
able to locate one of last year's re-
leased birds close to Tikal National
Park in Guatemala, roughly 80 km
away, six months after this falcon was
released. That same year we saw that

the juveniles dispersed up to 10 km.
less than one month after being re-
There is still much to be learned
about these fascinating raptors. Next
year, we hope to release more falcons
using the tame hack procedure. One
of the falcons that we released last
year returned this year and interacted
almost daily with this year's birds.
This was a giant step in demonstrat-
ing the success in using this technique
with this species. We hope to have
many more re-sightings of these color
banded individuals in the future. We
will also continue to monitor the wild
pairs, which is essential for us to bet-
ter understand the problems that
could be affecting the Central Ameri-
can population of this beautiful rap-


Field work during the releases is diffi-
cult and it would not be possible
without the help of our volunteers:
Ana Grau, Chris Eardley, Aldo Ortiz
and Erin Strasser. We owe an enor-
mous thanks to Wolf Creek Charita-
ble Foundation, Hidden Valley Inn
and Trevor Roe for their uncondi-
tional support for the project, and to
George Headley for allowing us to
use his land for the release of these
young falcons.

OBF Program Director: Robert B.
Director of Field Operations: Angel
Assistant Director Field Operations:
Marta Curti
Assistant Director Field Operations:
Yeray Seminario

Raptor Survey in the Upper Rio Doce Valley, Southeast Brazil
By Luiz Salvador, Neotropical Research, Grupo de Estudo para a Conserva~io da Fauna Neotropical,

Once a refuge for typical forest raptors, today the Rio Doce and Santa Cruz do
Esclavado are habitats for open area species

The Atlantic Rainforest is one of the
world's most disrupted and threatened
ecosystems and was the first Brazilian
biome to be explored after the Portu-
guese arrival in 1500. Subsequent eco-
nomic cycles and fast population
growth within its original range in the
last 508 years have severely affected its
singular ecological integrity. Less than
8% of its 1,500,000 km2 of native vege-
tal cover still remains in form of forest
fragments; most of them isolated from
each other by large monoculture fields,
cattle farms and urban areas.
This huge devastation deeply modified
the forest's original physiognomy, lead-
ing to lots of local extinctions. Many
raptor species are among the victims of
deforestation due to their high sensibil-
ity to habitat fragmentation and their
reliance on large forest areas to main-
tain healthy populations.
With the intent to detect the raptorial
fauna's susceptibility to fragmentation
and habitat loss, Biologists from
Neotropical Research Grupo de

Estudo para a Conserva~io da Fauna
Neotropical (MG/Brazil) conducted
490 hours of raptor surveys in the
counties of Rio Doce and Santa Cruz
do Escalvado, situated in Rio Doce
Valley, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Located within the Atlantic Rainforest
domain, the Rio Doce Valley was

originally part of a continuous and
luxurious jungle whose range extended
towards the Rio Paraiba do Sul Valley.
However, today this region is charac-
terized by the absence of pristine jun-
gle, due mainly to coffee and sugarcane
monocultures. The few remnant frag-
ments are small and mostly discon-
nected from each other.
Forest patches, riparian forests, Pedra
do Escalvado (the biggest monolith in
the region), open areas and even the
urban zones of both counties were
studied by means of transects con-
ducted on foot, by boat and car, as well
as by point count techniques.
The results showed a significant re-
placement of typical forest raptors by
species associated with open areas and
high impacted environments, not just
in number of taxonomic categories
present, but mainly in nesting records,
Bicolored Hawk, Collared Forest-
falcon, Black Hawk Eagle and Black-
and-White Hawk Eagle were recorded
only once and were not seen displaying
any breeding behavior. No nest of any
typical forest species was recorded.
Among the species that take advantage
of the edge effect, Short-tailed Hawk

aitat rragmentaton in me upper 0io

(one pair) and Laughing-falcon (two
pairs) nested successfully in different
forest fragments. Species that are oppor-
tunistic and highly tolerant to human
activities made the majority of nesting
attempts. Plumbeous Kite (8 pairs),
Roadside Hawk (5 pairs), Yellow-headed
Caracara (4 pairs), Crested Caracara (3
pairs), White-tailed Hawk (2 pairs),
Aplomado Falcon (1 pair) and American
Kestrel (1 pair) bred during the present
study. When considering individual re-
cords, Black Vulture and both Daptrii-
dae were the most common raptors in
the area.
The results of the present study show
the importance of large areas of healthy
habitat to the conservation of raptors
associated with the forest canopy. The
large forest eagle Hapia harpyja has been
considered locally extinct for a long
time, while other forest raptors like Spi-
zaetus ornatus, Accpiter poiogaster, Leucop-

temis polionotus, L. lacernulatus and Falco
deiroleucus present serious conservation
problems in upper Rio Doce region
due to its deforestation and fragmen-
tation. Although not registered, these
species may be occasionally present in
the study area.
Most of our knowledge about
neotropical raptors is local, incom-
plete and was obtained in anecdotal
ways. When we consider those species
dependent on forest habitats, this
situation becomes even more critical,
since our knowledge about them is
growing slower than their rate of ex-
With the intent to protect typical for-
est raptors, we must obtain detailed
information about adaptation, toler-
ance and vulnerability of these species
in relation to disruption and fragmen-
tation of their habitats, as well as to
know their conservation status and

understand their distribution patterns
in threatened regions not yet sur-
veyed, like the Atlantic Rainforest of
Southeast Brazil.
We hope this investigation completes
some of these gaps in the upper Rio
Doce Region, helping us to better
understand the population dynamics
of these endangered predators in ar-
eas with high human impact.

Page 6 N Nsetr#



ting, loss of habitat and poisonings
were identified as the fundamental cau-
ses for the decline of this species in
Ecuador. To learn more about this
species' behavior, Meza-Saltos monito-
red a juvenile male that was reintrodu-
ced in Cajas National Park after spen-
ding some time in a rehabilitation faci-
lity. Using conventional telemetry, an
ethogram was created, revealing the
predominant activities condors engage
in over time. In descending order, the
condor spent its time perching, slee-
ping, flying, feeding, associating with
other species, exercising its flight mus-
cles, and associating with other indivi-
duals of the same species. At this time,
Meza-Saltos also identified 1 roost site,
1 nest, and 7 condors in Cajas National
Park and surrounding areas.

In 2003, thanks to those groups work-
ing for the conservation of this species,
headed up by the Ministry of the Envi-
ronment and including around 16
other mostly private institutions, the
National Strategy for the Conservation
of the Andean Condor was established.
As part of the implementation of this
strategy, the Society for the Investiga-
tion and Monitoring of Ecuadorian
Biodiversity (SIMBIOE), in a joint
effort with The Peregrine Fund, began
carrying out a population census of
Andean Condors in Ecuador in 2008.
From 25 observation stations, situated
at 2600 meters above sea level along
the Ecuadorian Andes, they identified
and counted individual condors using
photo identification techniques. This
will provide the most current data for
this species and will help plan for the
next steps to take to reduce the threats
to this species.

Forty two percent of the world's
moors are found in Ecuador, occupy-
ing around 5% of the country, al-
though only 36% of these are found
within protected areas.
Human presence in the moors began

more than 200 years ago, when poor in-
digenous and mestizos (mixed race) were
displaced from the valleys into higher, less
accessible zones, by church and colonial
representatives. One hundred years later,
the government took possession of these
lands and converted them into large agri-
cultural farms, some of which persist even
to today. And finally, the agricultural re-
form of the 70's and 90's turned over part
of the moors to communities and private
landowners. Thus began the paradox: the
increase of livestock on the moors which
became the principle food source for the
Andean Condors, was also, at the same
time, causing loss of habitat and increase in
hunting and trafficking which decimated
the population to the point of disappearing
forever from Ecuador.
Today, some efforts are being made for the
conservation of the moors mainly through
tourism and environmental services. How-
ever, they have, until now, had very limited

To sustainably manage nature, in this
case the moors, one needs research,
education, and social appropriation for
the conservation of the species and its
habitat, as well as political will to create
sustainable development alternatives
for everyone involved, thereby pro-
moting equality between them.

Andean Culture
Historically, the Andean Condor was
venerated in communities throughout
the Andes region. In some of areas, it
is still honored to this day. However,
despite its cultural importance, the ma-
jority of townspeople along the Ecua-
dorian ridge persecute this species be-
cause of the belief that the condors
hunt their cattle on a regular basis.
The story of condors hunting calves is
a common tale told by men and
women of varying ages, nationalities,
social class and culture, throughout the

Investigation. Local field technicians monitoring an active condor nest in the
moors of Volcan Quitlindafia


Don Enrique Tasiguano, an elder Kitu Kara, says that as a boy he lived in a place called Atun
Ninguna (Precipice of the Wolf). His father often told him about the condors that flew very
close to their house, which was found in the parish of Hatun Pamba (Large Plains). His father told him
that he knew the condors by the name "wakkklla" which is the sound their wings make when cutting
through the air. One day, the people of Hatun Pamba went to harvest corn, barley and potatoes in the foothills
of the Pichinchas, known today as the city of Quito. On that very day, a condor carried away two children Maritza and
Jose Manuel- but not to eat them.

The potato gatherers saw those two children high up in the Pichincha. When the children were asked how the condor was
treating them, they said that the condor was very sweet, noble and wise, and that while they flew on its back they saw the
entire community below. As they flew, the condor said: "this is your land, these are your waters, these are your plants,
these are your riches, which you must protect and honor. Don't mis-use them or harm them. Don't destroy the
watersheds." When the children were back in the heights of the Pichincha, where the first drops of water fell, the condor
continued explaining to them: "I take this water and from here it goes through the glens so you can drink, eat and live
well". He also told them: "there are plants that cure, plants that feed, plants that can be used for building things, and
plants that can destroy... take this into account and learn about all the things around you. There are good lands and bad
lands, there are good people and bad people."

Having said this, he dropped them into the nest of the condors, in the Kuntur Wachana. As the condor flew away, he told
the children to walk toward the sunrise. The children walked until they found a group of mothers from the community
that were digging potatoes in the eastern flank of the Ruco Pichincha. The children told them about what they learned
from Taita Kuntur. The lesson the children learned from the condor was meant to help us to improve our lives, how we
treat each other and our common knowledge.

Photo Patricio Meza Saltos, C6ndor. Kuntur adult male

Andean region. They say that con-
dors attack the cattle in bands of
three to five individuals, of which
two or three with very low flights
and strong wing beats scare off the
calfs mother and the rest of the
herd. The remaining condors attack
the young, landing on its back and
biting its eyes and tongue (its soft
parts) until the young calf bleeds to
death, offering a great feast to the
If this tale turns out to be proven
true, it would show that even
though they are scavengers, condors
could hunt for food using "group
cooperative hunting" strategies, a
very sophisticated technique.
There are other stories about the
condor that can be used as a pillar to
help support our conservation
strategies (see The Story of the Condor).


In spite of the fact that the Andean Con-
dor is a national symbol, very few people
know anything more about this species
other than from the drawing that appears
on the shield on our flag. Through the
Kuntur Project, we hope to increase the
knowledge, on a general level, about the
Andean Condor, so that it becomes bet-
ter known within our society. On the 6th
and 7th of July, 2008, the Friends of the
Condor -Colectivo Ciudadano Amigos y
Amigas del C6ndor y la Tierra (ACT)
along with SIMBIOE and the support of
other local individuals and organizations,
organized the largest festival dedicated to
a wild threatened species ever held in the
country: The National Day of the Con-
dor. The festival, held in Quito, included
artistic/cultural activities with many of
the arts represented such as: dance, thea-
ter, puppet shows and music, among oth-
ers. We held a round-table discussion on
"Condors, Nature and Andean Culture"
to discuss the protection of nature and of
our culture. Attendance was incredibly

high. Over 300 collaborators helped to
make this day a success and over 5,000
people participated and enjoyed our
celebration of this sacred bird. This
activity helped to begin a process of
communication, consciousness raising
and sensitization about the importance
of the condor, the ecosystems on
which it relies, and the cultural bond
that exists between this species and the
society of our nation.

Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research Program:

Objectives and Perspectives by Jose de jesis Vargas Gonzales,
Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research Program, The Peregrine Fund,

The Harpy Eagle (Hapia harpyja) is a
threatened species that inhabits low-
land forests in the Neotropics, includ-
ing those forests that have been altered
by humans. This, of course, affects the
eagle's survival in both the short and
long run. In spite of this species' flexi-
bility or adaptability to altered environ-
ments, we have determined that it does
have specific requirements in the mi-
crohabitat it uses as a nesting site. The
reproductive territory required by this
species varies considerably. Work by
many researchers suggests the range is
between 14 and 70 km2 per pair, ap-
proximately. As a result, the conserva-
tion of Harpy Eagle populations
should include the protection of large
tracts of forest with sufficient connec-

tat through a combination of: environmental
education, participation and empowerment
of the local communities; and scientific in-
vestigation to form and answer bio-
ecological hypothesis. The initial results of
the past eight years of continuous research
have caused us to modify our objectives as
the program evolves in a positive way, as
well as reaffirm, reinforce, and design new
methods of data collection to obtain the best
results. This will help us amplify our
"human" perspective about the requirements
for the Harpy Eagle.
The principle objectives of the program are:
1. Offer environmental education talks to
children and adults; 2. Train members of the
local communities in basic aspects of conser-
vation and research; 3. Estimate the survival
rate, dispersion and habitat use of adults and





tivity. juveniles in habitat with different levels of t
Reports on the status of Harpy Eagles human alteration; 4. Locate and monitor the I
in Central and South America suggest productivity of known nests; 5. Describe the F
that the populations have been declin- reproductive micro-habitat; 6. Determine the r
ing over the past decades, and if the availability of prey species in different levels n
threats they face today continue, they of human-altered landscape; 7. Disseminate e
will likely become extinct in a relatively .... 850000
short amount of time. The main long
or mid-term threat to the persistence
of this species is deforestation and SGn s e Pronci den
fragmentation of their habitat. Their
most immediate threat is human perse-
cution, mainly by poachers. It is evi-
dent that developing plans for manage-
ment and sustainable actions to reduce
the human impact on Harpy Eagle
habitat needs urgent attention.
In order to be efficient and effective in
the conservation process, it is neces-
sary to have a solid scientific back-
ground about the bio-ecology, habitat Oc an
requirements and local threats to this Pacifico
raptor. For that reason, in 2000, The
Peregrine Fund and Fondo Peregrino- C noM I
Panama initiated the Harpy Eagle Con-
servation and Research Program in the 9 o 9 18
Pacific region of the Darien Province, Kometros
Panama (Map 1).
The general goal of the program is to
conserve the Harpy Eagle and its habi- Map 1. Location of study area, Dari6n, Panama.

he results through conferences, tech-
ical reports, radio messages, and
'opular and scientific articles, to offer
ools to help make decisions that con-
ribute to the conservation of this spe-
)uring the first two years of research,
ve identified potential areas for study,
nd we formalized our relationship
vith local communities through coop-
rative agreements. With the signing of
hese agreements, we were assured that
he program's activities in the areas of
esearch, conservation, local training,
nvironmental education, and commu-
ity participation would be successful.
Ve consider local participation to be
elevant and key to the sustainability of
onservation plans in the mid and long
he intrinsic characteristics of the
larpy Eagle (longevity, density, and
eproductive strategy, among others)
nake long-term study of this species
ssential, in order to obtain an ade-

$ Populated Areas Study Area
/V Waterways = Darien Province
/ Roads = Republicof Panama

Strategy for the conservation of breeding habitat for
the Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) in Darien, Panama

Proyeccin: UTMZ19
Cartografia base de centros poblados, vialidad, e hidrografia
fueron elaborados a partir de la imagen Landsat Mosaco
obtenida par EROS Data Center de la NASA.
Republica de Panamr

quate sample. ror example, te moni-
toring of the nests indicates that the
Harpy Eagle can nest successfully in
altered forests with different degrees of
anthropogenic impact. However, we
don't yet know if the Harpy Eagles will
continue to breed in these same areas
in the long term. For this reason, it is
important to continue monitoring over
many years to collect sufficient demo-
graphic data.
The main results of the past six years
are: 1. The completion of a Master's
thesis focused on the ecology and re-
productive habitat of the Harpy Eagle;
2. Two scientific publications on the
status of its conservation and interac-
tion with other raptors; 3. Sixteen pres-
entations given in scientific confer-
ences in Central and South America; 4.
Increase in the participation and em-
powerment of local communities
through the training of 41 field techni-
cians, who have supported our conser-
vation and ecological monitoring ef-
forts; 5. Development of environ-
mental education campaigns focusing
on the conservation of Harpy Eagles,
other raptors and their ecosystems; 6.

rstaDlisnea a long-term strategy ror tne
ecological monitoring of the Harpy Eagle
population; 7. Presented reports to Pa-
nama's National Environmental Authority,
and the Traditional Embera and Wounann
Authorities, which contributed to decision-
making efforts and environmental policy in
the region.
This experience has served to enrich the
knowledge of program participants, and has
allowed us to better visualize the local
threats that the Harpy Eagle population
and the ecosystems in Darien face. For ex-
ample, the environmental education cam-
paign has reduced the hunting of this spe-
cies, but it has done little to stop the de-
struction of habitat. The lack of employ-
ment opportunities, coupled with the strug-
gle to meet basic needs (food, education,
among others) plays a big part in the com-
munities' actions and decisions regarding
the land and their use of the local flora and
fauna. This socio-economic need and the
current environmental issues have caused
us to gain new perspectives and incorporate
other components to reduce the negative
effects on the ecosystem used by the Harpy
Eagle. Involving other entities, such as the
environmental authority and other govern-
(Continued on page 10)


Research Activities


Conservation It is a globally threatened species dependent on management and
conservation. The ecosystems which it inhabits are some of the most impacted by
anthropogenic activities.

Scientific There is a lack of information about the bioecology of this species,
including mortality rate, behavior, movement patterns, habitat use, and
reproductive success, among others.

Ecology As a top predator, and due to its habitat requirements, the Harpy
Eagle is considered to be a flagship and an umbrella species for the conservation
of tropical forests. Efforts to protect this species can help increase interest,
awareness and empowerment in local communities regarding environmental

Bio-cultural The cultural value of many species, both for indigenous groups
and in modern society (dance, music, crafts, national birds, etc.) has been under-
estimated in many conservation plans. The Harpy Eagle is an emblematic species
that has been used as a symbol of strength, agility, beauty and nature from pre-
Colombian times to the present, by different indigenous groups in Central and
South America. This cultural importance offers many advantages for the
conservation of this species and its habitat.

Page 1' Ncwslettcr #6



|Photos'4Jse'1e J. rgas Gonzdi

Environmental Education in Embera
and Wounaan communities

mental and non-governmental organiza-
tions is the strategy to be followed in the
next years. It is a difficult task, but one that
merits attention and effort.
In regards to the methods of investigation,
we have applied and incorporated tradi-
tional observation techniques for the col-
lection of qualitative and quantitative data
on behavior, description of habitat, and
prey census, among others. We have also
incorporated the use of radio transmitters
to monitor individual adults and juveniles,
as well as the utilization of Geographic In-
formation Systems to identify variables,
and determine spatial requirements and
movement patterns, to design models of
suitable habitat, and to characterize the
Our goal is to carry out long-term research
to contribute more scientific data necessary
to make environmental decisions, to fill in
the gaps in information, to consolidate and
establish new initiatives for conservation in
other regions, design applicable methods
with this species and other birds of prey,
and strengthen the knowledge and experi-
ence of students and local scientists. We
also want to continue increasing the local
capacity through training, and continue
identifying problems while working in con-
junction with local communities, look for
solutions that offer tangible results. In con-
clusion, the results and goals that were met
allow us to qualify this program as a suc-
cess, create new goals that promise new
challenges, more experience and better re-
sults for the conservation of the Harpy
Eagle and its habitat.

We thank donors to The Peregrine
Fund's Harpy Eagle Project, in particu-
lar Wolf Creek Charitable Foundation,
Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg
Foundation, USAID, Disney Wildlife
Conservation Fund, and others. To the
field technicians and volunteers that
represent the heart of this conservation
program. To the Embera and
Wounaan communities, and to the
Congreso General y Regional de Tier-
ras Colectivas Embera y Wounaan, for
their collaboration and logistical sup-
port. To the National Environmental
Authority of Panama, for permits and
support with digital material of the
study area. Special thanks to Marta
Curti and the Neotropical Raptor Net-
work for contributing to the divulga-
tion of the results of the program.

Helping to Conserve the Harpy Eagle through Environmental

Education in Darien, Panama by Saskia Santamaria, The Peregrine Fund, Neotropical Environ-
mental Education Program, ssantamaria@fondoperegrino.org

Before deforestation and poaching caused a decline in their populations, the natu-
ral range of the Harpy Eagle extended from southern Mexico to northern Argen-
tina. However, many of the countries within that range have not had a registered
sighting of this species in many years, particularly in Central America. The main
exception to this is Panama where a healthy wild population still exists. Today, Pa-
nama is considered the last main refuge of the species in Central America.
Of the nine provinces and different indigenous reserves (called comarcas) in which
the Panamanian territory is divided, the province of Darien is the most important K. Herrera explaining the importance of
healthy habitat for migrating birds

P'age I14N wletr#

in terms of Harpy Eagle conservation.
his province, located in the eastern
part of the country and bordering with
Colombia, is the home of the Darien
National Park and Biosphere Reserve,
among other protected areas. This is
why The Peregrine Fund-Panama has
focused its Harpy Eagle Conservation
Program and part of its Neotropical
Environmental Education Program
(NEEP) efforts in this province. The
ain objective of this program is to
help positively change human attitudes
toward raptors and to stress the impor-
tance of conserving raptors in nature.
In this specific case, it is important for
communities to understand the impor-
tance and long-term value of conserv-
ing healthy Harpy Eagle populations.
In Darien this has proven to be an
interesting challenge because of the
arge mixture of different cultures, each
with a very distinctive way of life,
found there. Darien is home to: indige-
nous groups such as the Embera,
Wounaan and Kunas; peasant farmers
that have emigrated from other prov-
inces; and groups of Afro Caribbean
descendants. The Neotropical Envi-

ronmental Program has worked in several of munity and highlights the positive im-

the communities, especially in Embera and
Wounaan indigenous communities since it is
on these lands where the most Harpy Eagle
nests have been recorded.
To work successfully with a variety of differ-
ent groups and cultures, NEEP utilizes edu-
cational talks, games and hands-on activities
about raptors, the Harpy Eagle, the impor-
tance of raptors in the food chain, and bird
migration, among other topics. We provide
relevant factual information so that commu-
nity members can then make their own deci-
sions, whether as a community or on an indi-
vidual basis, about the use of their natural
resources. Evaluating the program is key to
measure the program's results and, modify
the educational methods when necessary.
One of the communities where positive re-
sults have been seen is Mogue, and Embera/
Wounaan community. Partly due to The
Peregrine Fund-Panama's work there and
partly because of the involvement of other
organizations, several members from the
community have come to appreciate the long
term value of conserving the Harpy Eagle.
They often host visitors from other areas
and bring them to observe the species in its
natural environment. This benefits the com-

pact Harpy Eagle conservation can
Even though not everything has been
positive in this community (for exam-
ple it came to our attention that a com-
munity member had burned part of a
forested area where at least one indi-
vidual had been sighted, not to men-
tion other local fauna), it is still a satis-
faction to witness how educating chil-
dren and adults has planted the seed
for Harpy Eagle conservation. It is our
hope to keep reaching communities
with our talks so that other positive
actions and attitudes surface, helping
to conserve more Harpy Eagles in na-
We thank donors to The Peregrine
Fund's Harpy Eagle Project, in
particular Wolf Creek Charitable
Foundation, Liz Claiborne and Art
Ortenberg Foundation, USAID,
Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund,
and others.

Students in Darien playing "Flying, Flying, Flying," a game that simulates raptor migration



The NRN is a membership-based organization. Its goal is to aid the
research and conservation of Neotropical raptors by promoting com-
Fondo Peregrino -_Panama .
Peregmunication and collaboration among biologists, ornithologists, raptor
www.fondoperegrino.org enthusiasts, and other conservationists working in the Neotropics.

To join the NRN please send an email to mcurti@fondoperegrino.org,
introducing yourself and stating your interest in Neotropical raptor
research and conservation.

3RD NEOTROPICAL RAPTOR CONFERNCE October 28-30, 2009 Bogota, Colombia: Please stay tuned for more upcoming
information through the Neotropical Raptor Network! www.neotropicalraptors.org
Ecology and Conservation course, Jan 14-Feb 23, 2009. For more information visit contact or visit academic(aots.ac.cr
25th INTERNATIONAL ORNITHOLOGICAL CONGRESS August 22-28, 2010.Campos do Jordao, Sao Paolo, Brazil. For
more information visit http://www.ib.usp.br/25ioc/

1. Vargas-Gonzalez J. de J. 2008. Strategy to conserve the breeding habitat of the Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) in the Darien
Region, Panama. Master in Science Thesis. Universidad Experimental de los Llanos Occidentales "Ezequiel Zamora",
This thesis has four chapters: 1. Microhabitat preferences; 2. Spatial evaluation of the forest cover in three periods; 3. Suit-
ability model of breeding habitat; 4. Conservation strategy.

2. NEOTROPICAL RAPTORS, 2nd Neotropical Raptor Conference Proceedings, Iguazu, Argentina, June 2006

Order from:
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Articles edited and/or translated by Saskia Santamaria, Angel Muela and Marta Curti
NRN Coordinator: Marta Curti mcurti@fondoperegrino.org

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