Jason Arnold, a well-known snake catcher, who is also fascinated with predators such as the crowned eagle, said there had been confirmed cases in the Glen Anil and Sunningdale areas where people had seen crowned eagles swoop down and take small pets.
He said in the same areas, small cats and dogs had mysteriously disappeared and they suspected crowned eagles were responsible.
“In one case, the bird only realised once it had grabbed the dog and started to fly that it was a bit heavy, so it dropped the dog. It was at such a height that when the dog fell to the ground, it broke its back and had to be euthanised,” Arnold said.
He said the birds could be living somewhere close to the area and they were hunting from the sky.
A pet owner, who did not want to be named, said they wished they knew about the crowned eagles earlier, because their miniature dachshund was attacked in Glen Hills last Thursday.
“She had at least eight puncture wounds and it tore open her chest wall. We raced her through to my local vet and later in the day to the Hillcrest Hospital.
“She died on the table, thousands of rand later,” the owner said.
According to BioGuide, a Kloof Conservancy project, the eagles prefer forest habitats, dense woodland and forested gorges.
In eThekwini, they nest inside Krantzkloof, Nkuto Gorge, Everton Gorge, Hillcrest, Giba Gorge and in the Stockville Road area.
The conservancy said an increase in urbanisation and housing developments in the Upper Highway area resulted in increased conflict between the eagles and people.
The juveniles were particularly vulnerable because they flew near residential homes while learning to hunt.