Projeto Harpia: Saving the Amazon’s largest raptor for more than 20 years

Projeto Harpia: Saving the Amazon’s largest raptor for more than 20 years

The harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja) lives in tropical forests stretching from the south of Mexico to the north of Argentina. But it’s in the Brazilian Amazon that a project has been working intensively for its conservation for more than 20 years. Created in 1997, the Program for the Conservation of the Harpy Eagle by the National Institute for Amazonian Research (INPA) — also known as Projeto Harpia — surveys the nests of harpy eagles in the states of Pará, Amazonas and Rondônia, as well as areas of the Pantanal and the Atlantic Forest. Thanks to the work of researchers, students and volunteers, 120 nests are now being monitored in Brazil. According to genetic studies, it is estimated that there may be still some 5,000 harpy eagles in the Amazon and 300 in the Atlantic Forest. The work of surveying these nests is far from easy. Harpy eagles are very discreet animals. Despite being among the largest eagles, the birds are very well camouflaged inside the vastness of the forest. “There are, of course, many individuals of whom we are not aware. And it’s very difficult to find one of these nests in the middle of the preserved forest,” says Carlos Tuyama, the Projeto Harpia coordinator for the state of Rondônia. The birds build their nests in emergent trees, those whose branches rise above the average canopy layer. “The nests are usually 2.5 meters [8 feet] in diameter and always perched in the tree’s main fork,” Tuyama says. He says the…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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