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Harpy Eagle – Road to Extinction.

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Known as the fifth most formidable bird of prey on the planet the Harpy Eagle or American Harpy Eagle was identified by Professor Carl Von Linnaeus. Swedish botanist and zoologist Linnaeus was on e of the most influential botanists and zoologists of all time identifying in is his life time hundreds of species of mammal, plant and tree specimens.

Harpia harpyja as its generically known was first identified and named back in 1758 of which its population size wasn’t under threat then as it is today. Regrettably the Harpy Eagle is now near threatened with populations now in the decrease.

Harpy Eagles are not endemic to Africa. Native to Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Plurinational States of Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico; Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela reports state the species is locally or regionally extinct in large parts of its former range, notably most of central and north Central America and possibly Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Even within its most extensive range Harpy Eagles are actually a rare sight.

Although still reasonably common in the Amazonian forests of Brazil and Peru, it will only survive in the long term if the escalating rate of forest destruction in the region is brought under control and a network of inviolate reserves established (Please view the information below with regards to deforestation). Low overall population densities and slow reproductive rates make shooting the most significant threat over its entire range. It could perhaps survive in disturbed forests or even forest mosaics if its large size and boldness in the face of humans did not make it an irresistible target for hunters (Hunters pay big bucks to hunt this species just to display its trophy on their home walls – what a bloody waste). It presumably also suffers from competition with humans for prey. Humans are sadly playing such a large roll in Harpy Eagle depletion.

Deforestation

International Animal Rescue Foundation Brazil have been documenting on deforestation legally and illegally within the Amazon over the ten years. We reported on “decreased levels of legal and illegal logging”. This however has changed and for the worse it seems.

From 2011-2012 some 2.050 square kilometers of forest were lost displacing species, ripping up medicinal plants destroying the environment furthermore. However from 2010-2011 some 2,261 square kilometers of forest were ripped up. Although declines are noticeable its not enough and species extinction within these areas especially within Harpy Eagles zones habitats are becoming “common practice”.

Harpy Eagles main habitats are Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French and Guiana.

However larger but sparse population sizes are seen within the countries that share the Amazon rain-forest being, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Galapagos, Patagonia and Peru. These areas are of major interest to International Animal Rescue Foundation Brazil as deforestation is rife and species extinction slowly occurring of both flora and fauna. Deforestation was stated to be on the (decrease). That is of course what the South American governments want everyone to believe. Please see facts below.

WHAT HAPPENED from 2011-2012 when reported only 2.050 square kilometers of rain-forest was recorded destroyed?. However from 2013 and this figure will shock you. A staggering 28% of rain-forest was lost IN ONE YEAR! Beating all records known since 2004.

Someone and “some government and a certain petroleum company” of which we have been BANNED FROM NAMING IN OUR ARTICLES knows exactly WHY Amazonia rain-forest depletion increased by 28% between August 2012 and last July 2011, after years of decline.

BACK in May of 2012 Speak Up For the Voiceless.Org printed via reports from International Animal Rescue Foundation Brazil three articles within its “Environmental Chapters 1-33″ detailing the (advance of two unmanned) oil companies. Pe******** and Cha****** . Later that year Pe********* emailed our Brazilian environmental company ordering them to remove all pictures, all MAPS and ALL evidence that showed them (DESTROYING MILE UPON MILE) of pristine rain-forest DESPITE a national uproar by the Nat-Geo and American NGO’s. Harpy Eagle habitat, plants of medicinal importance aquatic and mammal life within the areas 295.6 kilometers from Yasuni were obliterated. Indigenous tribes were also displaced. NO the forest destruction is not caused by locals. Forest destruction within the Harpy and other mammal zones are being destroyed due a loan handed to President Rafael Correa not being paid back on time to the Chinese. Google it or read whats left of the articles here http://www.speakupforthevoiceless.org – please view the maps and please watch all videos.

The fight to stop the destruction of this area of rain-forest has been lost. Sadly money speaks louder than words. America, China and Ecuador will be held responsible for any such species extinction caused by noise pollution, Co2 emissions, poaching, pollution, and human species conflict. The provisional statistics from August 2012 to July 2011 suggest that the area suffering deforestation was 5,843 sq km (2,255 sq miles), compared to 4,571 sq km (1,765 sq miles) in the previous 12 months. The 28% rise interrupts a period of declining deforestation which began in 2009. However, it still remains the second lowest annual figure for forest loss in absolute terms.

The worst year on record was 2004, when 27,000 sq km of forest was destroyed. Monthly data from several scientific institutions had suggested the deforestation rate might be on the rise. Little did anyone know it was actually true. The Brazilian government stated This swing is not related to any federal government fund cuts for law enforcement,” she told reporters, adding that around 4,000 criminal actions have been taken against deforesters in the past year.

Although the Ecuadorian and Brazilian region of Amazonia is spread far and wide, Harpy’s do inhabit both large and small owned regions. Brazil owns the vast majority of the Amazonian being some 60%.

Harpy’s occur in uninterrupted expanses of lowland tropical forest (typically below 900 m but locally to 2,000 m), but will nest where high-grade forestry has been practiced, and use forest patches within a pasture/forest mosaic for hunting, however with no forest there is no Harpy. Nests have been reported only 3 km apart in Panama and Guyana.

The Harpy Eagle was first described by Linnaeus in his Systema Naturae in 1758 as Vultur harpyja, after the mythological beast harpy. The only member of the genus Harpia, the Harpy Eagle is most closely related to the Crested Eagle (Morphnus guianensis) and the New Guinea Harpy Eagle (Harpyopsis novaeguineae), the three composing the subfamily Harpiinae within the large family Accipitridae. Previously thought to be related, the Philippine Eagle has been shown by analysis of DNA to belong elsewhere in the raptor family as it is related to the Circaetinae.

Here are a few interesting facts about the Harpy Eagle:

An Amazonian apex predator: In the Amazon rain-forest, Harpy Eagles share the top of the food chain with Jaguars and Anacondas. The Jaguar rules the forest floor, the Anaconda is king is swamps and lakes, and the Harpy Eagle dominates the canopy of the rain-forest.

What do they eat?: Although Harpy Eagles are commonly believed to solely prey upon sloths and monkeys, studies carried out in Tambopata have shown that they catch and eat a variety of animals. While they do eat sloths and monkeys, they also take large birds such as toucans, kinkajous, and will even kill Brocket Deer! That’s quite amazing for such a large bird of prey.

Over sized beak and talons: Harpy Eagles look especially intimidating due to their huge, Grizzly Bear sized claws and massive beak. The legs of the Harpy Eagle can also be nearly as thick as the wrist of a person!

A wide-ranging, rare bird: This big eagle historically occurred in rainforests from southern Mexico all the way south to the Atlantic coast of Brazil. However, they need large tracts of animal-filled rain-forest to survive and have thus disappeared from many areas of their range.

The moral of this story is should deforestation continue, the want for more wood and paper products, lack of recycling the sadly we will lose the Harpy by 2030.

Thank you for reading;

Chief Environmental Officer
Botanist & Environmentalist

Dr Josa Depre.

 

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