Conserve and restore Harpy Eagle populations through hands-on management, research, and collaboration with local people.
Large, long-lived, slow-reproducing tropical forest raptors present special challenges for conservation. For over 20 years we have been working to conserve the Harpy Eagle, the largest eagle in the Americas, and its forest habitat. Through hard work and innovation, we are now able to predictably breed this species in captivity and have refined release techniques to improve the survival of young birds released to the wild after hatching in captivity. The long-term study in the wild of both captive-bred and wild-hatched birds provides us with valuable knowledge and insight to better manage and protect these and other threatened and endangered tropical forest eagles. The Harpy Eagle, Panama’s national bird, is a symbol of the serious loss of forest habitat and biodiversity in Central and South America.
2010-2011 Results Summary
Research and Conservation in Darien, Panama
- Monitoring of released Harpy Eagles with PTT and VHF telemetry systems in Panama and Belize showed the birds have traveled into Mexico and Guatemala.
- A female Harpy Eagle in Belize that was once feared dead after her transmitter failed was observed near Tikal National Park in Guatemala.
- After a male eagle showed up in a small Belize community, we tracked the bird’s movements from the ground and conducted visits with local community members to ensure that they were aware of the eagle’s presence and would not harm him.
- Surveys of the breeding status of Harpy Eagles at 44 known nest locations revealed an estimated 33 breeding pairs and three new nests.
- We provided hands-on training in research and ecological monitoring techniques to three technicians, one local volunteer, and three Panamanian students as part of our continuing effort to include local communities in the monitoring and conservation of Harpy Eagles.
- A captive-bred juvenile Harpy Eagle released in Darien was monitored to collect data on her movements, diet, habitat use, interactions, and behavior. She interacted well with wild eagles already in the area, proving the value of captive breeding, rearing, and restoration.
Panama, Belize, Guatemala, and southern Mexico
- Harpy Eagle — Harpia harpyja
People involved in this project:
- BBC TV
- Belize Forestry Department
- Belize Zoo
- City of Knowledge
- Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund
- Ecological Police
- Embera and Wounaan Communities of Darien
- Environmental Authority of Panama (ANAM)
- National Environmental Authority (ANAM)
- Panama Canal Authority (ACP)
- Panama’s Universidad Autonóma de Chiriquí
- Programme for Belize
- Sociedad Mastozoológica de Panamá
- Stichting De Harpij
- Tierras Colectiva Embera y Wounaan
- Wolf Creek Charitable Foundation