The number of Hodgson’s hawk eagles — the largest bird of prey in Taiwan — has dropped to 500, said members of the Taitung Wild Bird Society Wednesday, attributing the decline to human damage to the mountain bird’s habitats.
The society urged the relevant authorities to devise conservation plans as soon as possible to protect the endangered species from extinction in the country.
The Taitung Wild Bird Society said that four years ago it was invited, along with an ecology photographer Liu Ming-tang, by the Taiwan Forestry Bureau to conduct a survey on the distribution of hawk eagle groups in Taitung County, southeastern Taiwan.
In the last two years, their study focused on the bird’s breeding and population, society members said.
According to a survey report released recently by the society, 140 hawk eagles were recorded two years ago but that number has fallen to 100 in the last year.
Since there are no natural enemies threatening the bird’s survival in Taiwan, the drop in its population could be attributed to damage to its habitats, the report stated.
According to Liu’s observation, the hawk eagle mostly lives in forests on steep mountains. More than four out of every 10 eagles were found nesting in natural forests while 27 percent were in man-made forests.
The Hodgson’s hawk-eagle, a predator of the Accipitridae family, is at the top of the biologic food chain. It breeds in southern Asia, from Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka to China and Japan.