By John Ensor •
Updated: 26 Jul 2023 • 20:53
Iberian Imperial Eagle. Credit Jesus Giraldo Gutierrez/Shutterstock.com
One of Spain’s most iconic birds of prey, the Iberian Imperial Eagle is at risk of extinction due to the water shortage.
Also known as the Spanish Imperial Eagle, its survival could be at risk due to a lack of water in the protected Doñana area in Andalucia, according to Onda Cero, Wednesday, July 26.
The large raptor is exclusive to the Iberian Peninsula and only lives and breeds in Spanish and Portuguese territory. But yesterday, SEO/BirdLife warned that the water shortage that Doñana is currently undergoing is bringing one of the national park’s most iconic threatened birds of prey, the Iberian imperial eagle, closer to extinction.
In the 1960s the species was listed as ‘critically endangered,’ with only 30 pairs that remained, all of which were located in Spain.
However, thanks to conservation efforts over the years its population in the peninsula as a whole revealed that there were 821 pairs found in Spain and 20 in Portugal in 2021 and 2022.
The conservation of this bird of prey has historically been one of the priority objectives in the conservation of Doñana’s wildlife, although data from the latest breeding census in 2023 has pointed to a situation of decline.
Of the eight territories occupied in 2023, seven pairs have started breeding, but four of them have failed completely, and of the six chicks born this year, three have died in the nest for various reasons, meaning that only three Iberian imperial eagle chicks have fledged this year in Doñana.
This represents a productivity of 0.37, a far cry from what would guarantee population viability, according to the Recovery Plan for the Imperial Eagle in Andalusia.
Head of the SEO/BirdLife Technical Office in Doñana, Carlos Davila, said: ‘The decline of the imperial eagle in the national park is an indicator of the poor state of conservation of its ecosystems.
‘Doñana is suffering an unprecedented biodiversity crisis associated with the scarcity of rainfall and, above all, the overexploitation of its water resources, and scientific data are constantly alerting us to the urgency and seriousness of the situation.’
For this reason, it considers it a ‘priority’ to recover the functionality of Doñana’s ecosystems through natural restoration and the management of artificial wetlands with ecological criteria and to approve a new plan of urgent measures for the Iberian imperial eagle in Doñana to guarantee its conservation.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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