KARACHI: A female steppe eagle that received a solar-powered satellite tracking device after being rehabilitated at a private conservation facility in Karachi last month has reached Balochistan.
So far, the endangered species named ‘Sadoori’ (lucky) has travelled more than 330 kilometres and soared to a height of 460 feet.
The bird, along with its male partner ‘Sadoor’, was rescued by the wildlife department in a raid on an Empress Market shop in June this year where they were illegally caged for months.
Speaking to Dawn, Kamran Yousufzai, head of the Raptor Centre for Conservation where the eagles were shifted for rehabilitation by the wildlife department following their seizure, said the eagles were in poor condition when the team received them.
“They were injured and their feathers were broken. So, we took good care of them as they needed to be 100 per cent fit to be in the wild where their survival was directly dependent on their ability to hunt,” he said.
Wildlife dept had rescued two eagles in a raid on Empress Market six months ago
Wildlife officials collaborating with the centre decided to attach satellite tracking devices to the birds in an effort to map their movement and get information about their resting places, speed, temperature, food etc.
The devices costing Rs100,000 each were donated by the centre.
Contact with male eagle lost
“We lost contact with both of them for a few days. Luckily, it has resumed with the female recently but there is no clue to the male yet,” said Yousufzai, adding that the loss of contact might be due to some technical issues.
According to Sindh wildlife conservation official Javed Mahar, it’s the first time that a tracking device has been attached to any confiscated animal.
“The centre is communicating to us the latest information about the birds. We have lost contact with the male bird when it was flying at a height of 300 feet,” he said, hoping that the contact would resume soon.
Sharing how the experience would help conservation efforts, experts said it’s a unique experience to get real-time information about the birds’ movement, behaviour and habitat that would help build local data about these winter visitors.
“They are three years old and mature to breed. If they find a partner, they will look for nesting places and breed around June-July. In August-September, they will return to colder regions,” said Yousufzai.
Asked about the population of migratory species over the years, he said it appeared healthy but there was a need for scientific studies to have data on their population and migration pattern.
A large bird of prey, the steppe eagle (Aquila nipalensis) in many ways is a peculiar species of eagle. They are the only eagle to nest primarily on the ground. Usually, one to three eggs are laid and, in successful nests, one to two young eagles fledge.
In Pakistan, these eagles have been recorded from the lowland areas of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Punjab.
Wetlands have been reported as their preferred sites, presumably due to the abundant food supply (birds, rodents and reptiles) available there.