A specimen of the rare Bonelli’s eagle from Sicily, not releasable in nature, has been transferred to Spain, at the Madrid GREFA center (Grupo para la Recuperación de la Fauna Autóctona y su Hábitat), to be included in a breeding in captivity project that started some
years ago, and whose young eglets will return to Sicily to invigorate the small Sicilian population.
The operation was carried out thanks to the contribution between the Gruppo Protezione Rapaci Sicilia, engaged in conservation activities of Birds of Prey in the Sicilian territory, the natural reserve Lago di Vico (VT), the CITES Centrale di Roma of the Forestry Service, the Spanish Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente and the GREFA.
This species, now rare in the Mediterranean also threatened by the transformation of the landscape factors, for years has been subject of thefts by unscrupulous traffickers who stole eggs and chicks, to gain, from the illegal sale, up to 20,000 euro for each specimen. Furthermore this illegal traffic, besides the Bonelli’s eagle, also includes the Lanner falcon, this last species among the most at risk in Europe.
The CITES offices of the Forestry Service and the Sicilian Region, in 2010, began an investigative activity that led to the confiscation of many specimens of birds of prey, including this same female which now will be included in the important conservation project “Red Bonelli”.
This specimen of Bonelli’s eagle, confiscated in 2014 was initially transferred to the Wildlife Rehabilitating Center in the Lake Vico Natural Reserve, in order to prepare the documents for exportation, and where a team of experts has been responsible for maintaining it in excellent health condition . Today, finally, it starts its journey to Spain, where already, in recent years other Bonelli’s eagles have been sent, always as a result of past confiscations brought along by the Forestry Service,.
This pays back all the Gruppo Tutela Rapaci’s work. Since 2011, the year in which poachers were found steeling chicks from nests, volunteers from all over Europe have carried out a widespread oversight of the territory that allowed to contrast the thefts that threatened this species to disappear in no time from the Sicilians skies. The risk of extinction is very high for certain species of birds of prey tied to this phenomenon, which involves illegal dealers and falconers, many of whom have used animals taken from the wild for shows called “cultural” often sponsored by unwitting public bodies.
To reduce this risk, the European Union has financed the LIFE ConRaSi (Conservation of Raptors in Sicily) project, in course since the beginning of 2016 and managed by WWF, by Grefa, by Assessorato del Territorio e dell’Ambiente – Dipartimento Regionale dell’Ambiente (DRA), and by Dipartimento Regionale dello Sviluppo Rurale e Territoriale DRSRT. Its aim is the conservation of those rare species of birds of prey that still have significant populations in Sicily.
Gruppo Tutela Rapaci