Claws out for shooter of KZN eagle
Durban - Residents are on the prowl and a bounty has been raised for information on the person who shot down a juvenile crowned eagle in mid-flight last Sunday.
Experts believe the bird of prey’s shooting was triggered by the misguided notion that eagles were pet-swooping feathery thieves.
The reward put-up by the Centre for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (Crow) for the bird known as S6 had already grown to R22 000.
It is believed the bird was felled by fire from a pellet gun and rescued from the roof of a house in Malvern, Queensburgh, by Crow, and was euthanised because a pellet had severed her spinal cord.
Alexandra Kögl, Crow’s marketing and communications officer, believed the eagle was shot by a disgruntled pet owner as she flew overhead, causing her to plummet from the sky and crash on to the rooftop.
“Crowned eagles are Threatened or Protected Species (ToPS). Shooting an eagle is a highly illegal act which could land you up to five years in jail,” Kögl warned. She added the eagle was a subject of the Crowned Eagle Research Project and was monitored at her nesting site in Northdene.
“The reward is real,” Kögl confirmed. “What happened is terrible. There’s a possibility that she has offspring which adds to the desperation. We need everyone to rally together and get justice for the innocent life taken too soon.”
The Crowned Eagle Research Project’s Shane McPherson said S6 was one of about 115 crowned eagles they had tagged and monitored in Durban since its inception in 2012.
“We use alphanumeric identity rings on the eagles and put them on when they are nestlings. S6 was about three years old, they generally mature at age five, which is why she was remarkable as she had already started breeding,” McPherson said.
He said in the eight years the project had been active, there had been 38 incidents where the birds died or were left injured.
“Most of the incidents were collisions with either fences or glass. But other eagles were electrocuted or even poisoned, and have had other shootings. It is disappointing and disgusting,” he said.
McPherson said there was the notion that eagles were out to get pets, but this was incorrect.
“About 97% of their prey is wildlife, with close to 3% being chicken, and on a rare occasion, either a small dog or cat is on their menu. A young eagle learning to hunt will make mistakes and then learn,” McPherson said.
Conservationist Richard Mckibbin of the LionHeart Experience said: “There are fewer than 1000 of them left in the country. They are fighting for their survival.
“The shooter has not been identified but could not have been very far away from the bird, so they must live in a nearby home.”
Mandy Kruger, administrator of the Bluff Crowned Eagle Facebook page, has spoken with residents and urged more to come forward with information but has had “little joy thus far”.