Several Harpy eagles have been discovered in Belize’s Maya Mountains for the first time in 60 years. The eagles were believed extinct in the country, due to habitat loss and overhunting.
“This is incredibly significant for bird conservation in the region. It shows that our work in Belize is effective; protecting wildlife and habitat from overhunting and disturbance, while also sending a positive message about the benefits of conservation to the local communities,” said Lee McLoughlin, Protected Areas Manager for the Ya’axché Conservation Trust. (Source: Fauna-flora.org)
A pair of adult Harpy eagles and a chick were spotted inhabiting a nest. The fact they have reproduced should indicate they are healthy and have enough food sources to continue living a normal life span. There may be two other eagles in the same area, as one source said five were spotted by wildlife observers.
The newly discovered couple may be the most northerly breeding pair of Harpy eagles. The species also used to live as far north as Mexico, but it is thought they were mainly wiped out there. They may now only dwell in Chiapas, Oxaca and Veracruz in southern Mexico, but the populations are so small, they cannot be reliably confirmed.
The Maya mountains are believed to have some of the oldest rock formations in Central America. Some of them are estimated to be 200 million years old. The forested area is a good habitat for Harpy eagles. Some parts of the area are protected in a continuous corridor all the way to the Caribbean Sea. Other animals in these nature preserves are: jaguars, crocodiles, West Indian manatees, lobsters, conch, scarlet macaws and parrots. There are also 220 tree species and 350 bird species. Mahogany and cedar are some of the dominant trees, but these are highly sought for commercial value, and some were taken for industry during the 20th century.
Image Credit: Michael Schamis