Wildlife & Biodiversity

World's largest eagle unable to feed its young due to deforestation

Unlike other eagles, Harpy eagles cannot effectively hunt in a non-forest environment

By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 01 July 2021

The harpy eagle is unable to feed its young due to the deforestation of the Amazon, says a new study. The study was conducted by a team of conservation biologists from the University of East Anglia, UK.

The harpy eagle is the world’s largest eagle and the apex aerial predator of Amazonian forests. The Amazon rainforest is home to nearly 90 per cent of the existing harpy eagle population. Unlike other eagles, Harpy eagles cannot effectively hunt in a non-forest environment. Sloths that live in thick vegetation and small mammals are the main prey of this raptor.

Researchers tracked the feeding habits of 16 eagle pairs using camera monitoring and surveying prey bone fragments. In normal forested areas, the eagles fed around 0.69 kg of food to their offspring each day. But in areas where 50 per cent or more of the forest had been lost, eagles could only bring 0.11 kg of food each day.

Three eaglets died in areas with 50–70 per cent deforestation and no nests were found in areas with more than 70 per cent deforestation. Harpy eagles have the slowest breeding cycle of all bird species as they typically breed once every 30 to 36 months. Saving Harpy eagles from getting extinct can only be done by robust forest conservation activities.


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