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CSI-KUŞKOR: Searching for the Last Eagle

  • February 3, 2016
  • Damla Beton

The rabbit cage where the corpse was found. The rabbits dig to exit the cage. The eagle is believed to have died upon hitting the cage

The hen cage within the farm where the corpse was said to be found

The hills behind the rabbit cage where the corpse was found

Since 2011 KUŞKOR have undertaken annual monitoring of the Bonelli’s Eagle population that persists in Cyprus. Our volunteers are dedicated people, who have a sparkle appearing in our eyes every time we see an eagle.

We can watch for hours, wait for them patiently and will neglect our families and duties just to learn a bit more about them. So when we saw this photo on facebook we were left in shock.

During his shooting for a program called Şiirbaz Yolcu at Bağlıköy, cameraman Alpmut Tarkan encountered the carcass of an eagle, took a photo and shared the photo of the dead eagle through social media.

We felt devastated when we saw the picture. For the last 2-3 years, we were aware of a pair that have been breeding in the Troodos Foothills around Lefke as we have seen them reliably at the nearby Lefke Dam. Now, the pair that were once breeding there would not be able to do so anymore. How could one breed without a mate? None have been seen at Lefke Dam this year.

KUŞKOR investigated locally, reported the case to the Environmental Protection Department and submitted a report to the police locally and at the national police HQ. We learned that shepherd  Hüseyin Gençler found the eagle dead at his small farm. The eagle apparently used to visit his freely ranging chickens and rabbits which are left to graze freely  and “died crashing into the wire fence” he explained. When we asked the location of the carcass, he replied “There was a lot of people wanting it, … I did not give it to anyone, I just threw it to a field”. We looked at the location he claimed to throw it, but it was not there. We asked other villagers and still received negative replies…  Our eagle died and apparently disappeared/dissolved into thin air. It seems that KUŞKOR-CSI has little to go on.

Sadly almost all of the large predatory birds such as Imperial Eagle, Black Vulture, Griffon Vulture that in the past bred on our island have been eradicated. There are still some Griffon Vultures residing in the south, although around half of their population was poisoned this winter, of which three were imported as chicks from Greece to help bolster numbers.

Bonelli’s Eagle may be approaching a similar fate in North Cyprus. Four birds have been recorded dead in recent years including 2 poisoned and 1 electrocuted on poorly designed electrical pylons. Many more likely have gone unrecorded. It is heartbreaking to think that Bonelli’s Eagle may not have much time left on our island...

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