There are only an estimated 25 of the majestic birds of prey known as Harpy eagle in our forests and maybe that’s why concern is growing for Hope the Harpy eagle who is said to have gone off course during one of its customary flights over the country. The eight year old eagle that graces one of the 60 cent stamp edition of the Belize postal service is said to have been last sighted and tracked in the Blue Creek area.
Sharon Mattola, Director, Belize Zoo
“Hope is not the most behaved harpy eagle, if hope was then he would stay in the Selva Maya, he would hunt his iguanas, take the odd kinky juno again, dine on colatis, but no he’s got to be travelling too far south, and we know from our radio tracking, that he is now on the cusp of Spanish Lookout. It’s not in a hunting mode, it’s no other reason than I’m just a curious bird and I’m having a look around, and that’s how Harpy eagles are, they are extremely intelligent.”
Known as one of the top predatory birds indigenous to this area, an area which stretches from the Southern tip of Mexico to the Northern tip of South America, the Harpy eagle’s greatest enemies are climate change, deforestation and man.
“Over the years…”their population have been reduced significantly, mainly due to hunting pressure. They are fierce looking birds, and they are big and they look mean, but having studied them and having worked with two of them at the Zoo I can tell you they have the most gentle natures, they really do, however if you do not know that I think intrinsically and instinctively, you fear them, and that’s what’s led to them getting shot and persecuted over the years.”
While the life span in captivity for the Harpy eagle is an estimated 40 years, in the wild that estimate is said to translate into a gamble…..Reporting for Seven News, I’m Jim McFadzean.