Category: Bands & satellite tracking

Bands & satellite tracking

Recovery, rehabilitation and marking of a young female Spanish…

The Moroccan Association for Falconry and Raptors Conservation (MAFRC) successfully scored and released a female Iberian Eagle. This operation, supervised by the High Commission for Water and Forests and the Fight Against Desertification (HCEFLCD) and executed by the MAFRC in partnership with Consejeria de Medio Ambiente y Ordenacion del Territorio of the Junta de Andalucia and the Migres Foundation, will enable the identification of threats to these birds in Morocco in order to take corrective measures.


  On November 17, 2018, a female Spanish Imperial Eagle was recovered by the AMFCR in the Bouznika region. The bird, a young female born in 2017 in Spain, was weak, distressed and affected by coccidiosis.

Treated and then rehabilitated during a month in an aviary by the AMFCR, its marking and its release were planned with the agreement and the close collaboration of the High Commission of the Waters and Forests and the Fight Against Desertification (HCEFLCD), the Consejeria de Medio Ambiente y Ordenacion del Territorio de la Junta de Andalucia and the Migres Foundation.

A 45 gram GPS loggers and a yellow Darvic M06 ring were fitted on the bird that was successfully released on 17 December 2018. The bird has been observed in good health in the Benslimane region’s oak trees several times, guaranteeing the success of its reintegration to nature.

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As a reminder, the Spanish Imperial Eagle is an emblematic species that almost disappeared in the 1970s, mainly because of electrocution, the scarcity of prey (especially rabbit), poisoning and modification of its habitats. The recovery and conservation plan of the Spanish Imperial Eagle set up by the different Spanish provinces allowed the stabilization, then the progressive increase of its population.

Female Spanish Imperial Eagle (Ringe M06) fitted with GPS logger just before the release. Bouznika – 17/12/2018 – Photo Karim LAIDI


Today, between 600 and 700 pairs of Eagles populate the Peninsula, versus 120/130 pairs in 1970. The Moroccan breeding population, which existed in low density in the North-West of the Country (Maamora Forest, Plain of Loukkos), is considered as probably extinct around 1940. However, as a result of Spain’s considerable efforts for the conservation of the species, the Moroccan and North African observations of erratic immature Spanish Imperial Eagles coming from the Peninsula are more and more frequent.

In 2017, at least four Spanish Imperial eagles crossed the Strait of Gibraltar towards North Africa. It was in the 4 cases immature birds:

  • A bird photographed, after crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, behind the port of Tangier-Med, September 12 (R. El Khamlichi).
  • A bird photographed at the same place on October 6, also just after crossing the strait (R. El Khamlichi).
  • A bird also photographed on the same site on November 10 (R. El Khamlichi, Cécile Krystelle and Radu Adrian).

A male tracked by satellite in Andalusia crossed the strait in September 2017. The bird traveled from northern Morocco to Algeria and then to the Atlas Mountains, the Sahara and Guelmim. It then moved north on the Atlantic coast between Casablanca and Rabat. Karim Rousselon was able to locate and photograph the bird on October 27, 2017 (Fig.3). The bird has not since left Morocco where he stays mainly in the protected hunting reserves, which seem to offer him protection and food. Hope to see a breeding case soon.

Satellite monitoring of these birds will provide essential information for the identification of the main threats affecting these birds in Morocco, and can therefore provide corrective measures. In the long term, this work orchestrated by the HCEFLCD fits into the framework of the implementation of a National Strategy for the Conservation of Birds of Prey in Morocco, which should make it possible to ensure the survival of the most endangered raptor populations in Morocco. Raptors are an essential link to ensure the balance of ecosystems.

Bands & satellite tracking

MAFRC finds a dead Montagu’s Harrier in the area…

The AMFCR has found a dead Montagu’s Harrier (Circus pygargus) in the area of Fkih Ben Salah. The Raptor previously equipped with a GPS tracker by the Centre for Biological Studies of Chizé in France was most likely killed by poachers.


The alert was launched on 23 August when Alexandre Villers of the Center for Biological Studies of Chizé in France asked his Moroccan colleagues if they could find a Montagu’s Harrier previously equipped with a GPS tracker.

The story of this Montagu’s Harrier had begun a few days before.

We nicknamed Greedy because it was greed that made him caugh in our trap -he took speed a young non-breeder male who would land on a pole equipped with a trap and a vole-. He was mating with a female, Oriana, also captured this year on June 19 and marked red red blue yellow. The birds were not known -it was not birds already banded- and reared 4 chicks until fledge for a laying of 4 eggs -which is rather not bad given the conditions tells Alexandre Villers in his exchange with the MAFRC.

A Journey well gone:

After releasing Greedy, Alexandre’s team could continue to follow his migration. The Raptor left Deux-Sèvres on 15 August for its wintering quarters in sub-Saharan Africa. It has travelled 410 km in 8 hours during this day ” as mentioned in Magornitho’s article .

Arrived in Morocco the bird eventually stopped in the area of Fkih Ben Salah – region of Beni Mellal-Khénifra -. Following the call by Alexandre on Twitter, the MAFRC responded to the request of his colleagues by moving to the indicated place:

The probable track of a poacher’s shot:

Unfortunately, the Raptor was found dead, lying in an agricultural field. It seems that the bird has landed in this field, and died after convulsing in a rather violent manner. Karim did an autopsy but the body was already well auto-lysed, so no obvious evidence could be found. However, most likely he received one or more hunting leads in the organs, he then flew some distance before coming to die in this field as a result of these injuries. Note that the bird had no fractures.

I do not like to tap on hunters when there is no evidence, however it looks like the work of a poacher who opened fire on this bird that passed upon him. Turtle Dove frequently hunted in the area of Fkih Ben Salah. Otherwise a poisoning, but with regard to the quasi-not scavengers regime of the Motagu’s Harrier, i believe this is an unlikely option says Karim Rousselon.

Threatened mainly by poaching, poisoning and trafficking of species, raptors in Morocco will soon benefit from the establishment of a dedicated national strategy being developed by the Office of the High Commission for Water and Forestry (HCEFLCD) with the assistance of its national and international partners.


In Morocco the Harrier nests – not very commonlly and very locally – in the Atlantic coast between Tangiers and Essaouira, as well as on the Mediterranean coast – mouth of the Moulouya for example -. In addition, the species during its migration – especially from March to May and from August to October – is fairly common in all regions of the country.

Article 12 of the order of the Ministry of Agriculture No. 582-62 of 3 November 1962 on permanent regulation of hunting, article 2 of the Order of the High Commission for Water and forests, opening closing and special rules for hunting during the 2017-2018 season, as well as the Law 29-05 on the protection of species of wild flora and fauna and the control of their trade, clearly forbid any hunting of nocturnal or diurnal raptors under penalty of legal action.