From: Sharon Matola, Belize Coordinator
On Thursday, 25 October, a pair of captive-bred Harpy Eagles
arrived to Belize from their birthplace: The Peregrine Fund's
Neotropical Raptor Center, Panama.
Once they cleared Customs, the pair were provided a military
escort by Major Ray Shepherd, the Commanding Officer of
the Belize Defence Force (BDF)Airwing.
The Rio Bravo-bound Harpy Eagles were securely placed
in the hold of the BDF Defender Aircraft, and twenty five
minutes later, Major Shepherd smoothly landed the raptor
pair onto the Blue Creek airstrip.
Their, the eagles along with their support team, Major Ray
Shepherd, Angel Muela, Marta Curti, Aldo Ortiz (The Peregrine
Fund), Humberto Wohlers and Sharon Matola (The Belize Zoo)
were driven to Rio Bravo.
Once there, the "raptor crew" then walked the
Harpies to a safe and sound release site. Further escort
assistance came from Programme for Belize (PfB) staff, who
also accompanied the group to the release sites.
The male was first released. He quickly flew high to a
branch and then after a few moments, flew off deeper into
Major Shepherd released the female eagle - however, she
decided to explore the forest floor before flying higher
to a suitable branch (Harpy Eagles will spend time on the
ground - "Panama", the male Harpy Eagle on exhibit
at The Belize Zoo, also enjoys "ground time").
Both Harpy Eagles have satellite transmitters, PTTs, and
will be tracked continually by The Peregrine Fund.
After their successful exit into the forests of northwestern
Belize (Rio Bravo), Peregrine Fund biologists Chris Hatten
and Ryan Phillips, along with Sharon Matola, followed up
on their movements with ground telemmetry.
At this writing, both birds are doing fine. Their release
brings the number of Harpy Eagles from captivity-to-life-in-the
Selva Maya- to thirteen!!
The Belize Zoo is continuing an outreach Envrionmental Education
program about the Harpy Eagle, and hopes that, in the future,
this valuable information can also be taken into the neighboring
countries of the Selva Maya - Mexico and Guatemala
Tracking the Harpy Eagles over the course of more than three
years has shown that their movements are not confined to
the forests of Belize. Forests within Guatemala and Mexico
play a key role in their ecology..
Field studies on the released birds have shown preferred
prey to include:
However, the eagles have also preyed upon grey fox, porcupine
and even white tail deer.
The Belize Harpy Eagle Restoration Program, BHERP, extends
a huge thanks to Maj. Ray Shepherd and his support crew
at the BDF Airwing. Flying the eagles, after their initial
arrival to Belize, provided them an "easy entry"
into their new Harpy home. Thanks goes to personnel and
all staff at La Milpa Field Station, and to all at The Peregrine
Fund involved in this important conservation work.
Any questions/comments, please feel welcome to contact BHERP
Coordinator, Sharon Matola, firstname.lastname@example.org
Back to main Harpy Eagle introduction
Update 2 of October 2003
Update 3 of January 2004
Update 4 of July 2004
Update 5 of December 2004
Update 7 of December 2005
Update 9 of June 2007