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The Importance of Hope, the Harpy Eagle

[Linked Image] Once upon a time quite long ago, the majestic and powerful Harpy Eagle was the alpha predator in many parts of Central America. Through habitat - loss - the Harpy was on the verge of extinction, but through a programme by the peregrine fund with partnership of the Belize Zoo, the largest Eagle of the Americas is making a comeback. And they are doing particularly well in Belize.

While the first one Panama came to the Belize Zoo in 2003, the idea since has been to re-introduce them in the wild so that someday your children will be able to know this majestic creature as it exists in its natural habitat. That effort went one step farther today when an eagle called hope was given wing. Hope was flown into Belize from Panama last week and is tonight in the wild of the Rio Bravo Reserve. 7News was at the air wing when she was sent off and through the kindness of Richard and Carol Foster we have images of her release at Rio Bravo. Here's the story.

Jacqueline Godwin Reporting,

Hope's journey to the Rio Bravo Reserve started off here at the Belize Defence Force Air Wing where the bird, one of the top predators in the world was taken in this carrier and placed carefully in the rear of the defender. Hope is the fifteenth bird to be released and hopefully will do his part to restore its healthy population.

Sharon Matola, Executive Director - Belize Zoo

[Linked Image] "Remember they are top predators so there were never a huge amount of these eagles because they are solitary large birds of prey but they were there, they were documented and bit by bit as top predators go, if their habitats are altered or degraded, it only takes one shotgun to eliminate a mating pair. If that keeps happening over time, they are considered to be extirpated from Central America meaning no more."

And that is why the raptor restoration programme spearheaded by the Peregrine Fund in collaboration with the Belize Zoo is very critical for the survival and conservation of these magnificent birds.

Sharon Matola,

"We have a few here now but if we are responsible, if we manage and protect our forest, they will be here in the future and I am excited about that.

The importance of Hope is that Hope the harpy eagle is melded towards the whole of climate change because we need that forest out there to decrease the impacts of climate change. Just by having the forest there is maintaining habitat and that is one of the best defenses against those negative impacts and guess what, harpy eagle needs the rainforest too. So there is the natural tie-in, it is about forming a strong and beneficial alliance with nature."

The significant effort being made has caught the attention of both the US Ambassador to Belize and the British High Commissioner who accompanied Hope on his trip to his new home.

Sharon Matola,

"This guy was captive bred in Panama. In 2005 he hatched, trained to be an independent hunter, he knows how to hunt, released in the forest there - what they have found out is that our program is far more successful as far as the bird surviving. Hope, the harpy eagle as well as the rest of the eagles is followed by satellites wherever they go, what they eat, what their secrets are so to speak."

To mark the occasion the Belize Zoo, Animal Management Supervisor Humberto Wohlers will be accepting this poster on behalf of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. The gift bears a picture of Panama one of the first three harpy eagle to arrive in Belize six years ago.

Humberto Wohlers, Management Supervisor - Belize Zoo

"Well it is one of the birds that has been around in Belize, there are not much of those birds here, we are trying to restore the population back into the forest of Belize."

Sharon Matola,

"There are two more harpys that need to be trapped in Panama and then brought to Belize. Right now if some of these birds get together and start their bonding behaviour, they do mate for life and we are looking at a sustained population for the next generation. So it is really really great."

Reporting for 7News, Jacqueline Godwin.

A harpy eagle male weighs 10-16 pounds and the Female 14-18 pounds with a wingspand of 7 feet.[i][/i]

Live and let live
Joined: Dec 2006
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notice the GPS tracking band on its leg.
This guy was released in Belize and flew to Guatemala where I took this photo //

Last edited by elbert; 12/15/09 09:03 AM.

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Hope the Harpie Eagle released into the wild

It is the largest eagle in the world and for years, Belize has been working in restoring the numbers of the birds in the country. And today after a week in quarantine, the Harpy eagle, Hope was released into the wild near Blue Creek in the Orange Walk District. Hope is the fifteenth eagle that has been released in the country and the Belize Zoo who is responsible for the venture says that there are hopes for the eagle specie to multiply in the near future. News Five spoke with Founding Director of the Belize Zoo, Sharon Matola, who says that the introducing the bird into the country is also beneficial for its impact on climate change.

Sharon Matola, Founding Director, Belize Zoo
"We had Hope the Harpie eagle who came up last week, a very strange arrival to Belize. He sat in quarantine for about a week and went, thanks to the B.D.F., to Blue Creek, where we had a wonderful ceremony with the villagers because they have been supporting our work up there. And then we drove to the remote release site and released this beautiful eagle into the wild and as we drove out, I could hear him call. So it's another eagle to assist in the balance of nature here, but also importantly, this eagle is tied in with climate change. Right now, as I speak, our Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister of Natural Resources and his C.E.O. Earl Green of the Climate Change Commission; everybody is in Copenhagen and taking place there are some vital meetings about climate change. Well you know what? It has been scientifically proven that one of the best defenses in reducing the negative impact in climate change is to keep habitat in good condition and by doing so we improve the future for our future generations but also give those Harpie eagles a great chance to survive in the future. Hope the Harpie eagle is number fifteen and there should be getting reports of bonding or mating behaviour and to have this magnificent rapture back into our forest is just absolutely too cool for words. I'm just thrilled."

An adult harpy eagle weighs about twenty pounds with a wingspan of about seven feet.

Channel 5

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,392
Hope the Harpy released at Rio Bravo

A Harpy Eagle called Hope is the fifteenth such bird being released at The Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area (Rio Bravo) owned and managed by Programme for Belize in an attempt to establish a breeding population.

According to Executive Director of Programme for Belize, Edilberto Romero, the Harpy Eagle, which was flown into Belize from Panama last week, was released Monday, December 14, at the 260,000 acre reserve located in northwestern Belize.

"We are on our way to establishing a breeding population of Harpy Eagles in Belize," Romero said.

Harpy Eagles once thrived in Belize but their population disappeared due to loss of habitat, caused by deforestation and the deliberate killing of this majestic raptor.

This initiative to restore Harpy Eagles in Belize is a partnership project being carried by The Peregrine Fund, The Belize Zoo and Programme for Belize. According to Romero the Harpy Eagle is a symbol of hope and the need to protect our precious forest which contributes to the solution of climate change, The release attracted the attention of international digni-taries.

The Harpy Eagle release was witnessed by the US Ambassador Vinai Thumalapaly and his wife Barbara and the British High Commissioner Pat Ashworth.

Programme for Belize is proud that the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area has been chosen as the release site for the restoration of Harpy Eagles for present and future generation of Belize to enjoy.

According to Executive Director of the Belize Zoo, Sharon Matola, the birds are top predators. They are likely to be considered extirpated from Central America. Matola points out that there are already a few Harpy Eagles in-country and with proper management and protection of the forest they will be here in the future.

Hope was captive bird bred in Panama. In 2005 he hatched, and was trained to be an independent hunter. He was later released in the forest in Panama.

Matola said the program in Belize is far more successful bird survival. Hope, and his othe egle companions are tracked by satellites so that we can receive knowledge on where they go, what they eat and what their secrets are.

The first Harpy eagle came to the Belize Zoo from Panama in 2003.

A harpy eagle male weighs 10-16 pounds. The Female 14-18 pounds and has a wingspan of 7 feet.

The Reporter

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,392

Hope, the Harpy Eagle Spotted in Belmopan

The Harpy Eagle is the most majestic bird of prey in the America’s and since 2003 there has been an effort to repopulate the Central American isthmus with the spectacular bird. A number of the eagles have been introduced at the vast and expansive Rio Bravo – but these things have a mind of their own – and one of them has left Rio Bravo – and headed southeast to Belmopan. Sharon Matola of the Belize Zoo today sounded a warning not to harm this bird if it is seen in the valley of peace of Belmopan areas.

Jacqueline Godwin Reporting,
It was on December fourteenth that we last heard about Hope, the Harpy Eagle when it was set free in the Rio Bravo Reserve. The objective is to help in the restoration of a healthy population of these species of birds, one of the top predators in the world. The birds are tracked by satellite like this one that shows Hope has flown many miles away from where it was released. The big grey and white eagle was expected to return in the deep jungle but it has remained far away from where it was released, an ideal location for its own survival.

Sharon Matola, Director - Belize Zoo
“A healthy forest with lots of prey, lots of animals to eat, to dine on, to get fat on, to live happily ever after. What did Hope do? She took off and flew straight towards Belmopan.”

The Belize Zoo Director Sharon Matola says the concern tonight is that Hope has flown into populated communities and because of its menacing appearance area residents may kill the bird out of fear for their own safety. Hope is the fifteenth bird to be released in Belize as part of the restoration programme and the only one so far to have made a sudden flight from departure that is why it has taken everyone by surprise

Sharon Matola,
“We know from tracking these eagles that they do travel long distances, that is part of their natural history. When we first heard that this eagle was getting closer and closer to where people live, we figured oh, well it will turn around and go north again. He hasn’t. He’s very close, he is on the cusp of Los Tambos, Yalbac, and not that far from Belmopan. So also they are top predators and as top predators they are extremely curious birds. What we are concerned about is that someone might be afraid of him, as you can see from Panama these are big eagles, big white and grey, and initially someone might think oh no he is going to hurt my child or he is going to take my dog and you know what, he won’t. They are completely not geared into that direction. What they are doing is just kind of looking around and seeing what’s out there because they are curious.”

And the possibility of losing Hope forever is one that the Belize Zoo hopes to prevent because if the bird is killed it will be devastating to a very important part of Belize’s wildlife history.

Jacqueline Godwin,
“And the concern I guess is that when he was in quarantine he, I don’t know if Hope got used to the human contact, so I think he wouldn’t be scared flying close to human beings.”

Sharon Matola,
“I think that’s a good point because no matter how careful you are, boy are we, his enclosure was just cased off, but he had to be fed and you can’t just wish that food in there. Somebody has to take it in, put it there, he sees a human, even though they just dash right out and make it look like a prey item, these are very smart birds. That is a factor that we have to be very aware of, he is not afraid of people.”

That is why the Belize Zoo has embarked on an intensive education campaign in the villages where Hope has been tracked by satellite.

Jamal Andrewin, Environmental Educator - Belize Zoo
“We will be targeting the Valley of Peace area, Los Tambos, Yalbac, Celena, and La Graza – those are the main areas that Hope is near to, in close proximity to. Myself and head of animal management at the zoo will be going out to these villages to talk to the Chairman and also to the schools if they are anyway in the area, to the school children mostly.”

Posters of Hope such as this one will be handed out in the communities.

Sharon Matola,
“And it is startling. When you look at this information it can pinpoint where he is and we thought certainly he would turn around and head north but it looks like he is centering his activity in the Yalbac, Los Tambos area and it is a matter of concern. We just want to implore the people out there that this guy is harmless, he is an important part of Belize right now, and if we can do anything really great for 2010 let’s make sure he is okay.”

Meanwhile Panama the first of three harpy eagles to arrive in Belize is doing very well from her secured location at the Belize Zoo. So too are the other fourteen birds that remain in the jungles of Belize. Jacqueline Godwin reporting for 7News.

The Belize Zoo plans to hold an educational campaign over the radio to reach as many people in the communities where hope the harpy eagle has been traced by satellite.

Channel 7

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,392

Hope, the Harpy Eagle, in danger

The Belize Zoo proudly released Hope, the Harpy Eagle into the wild last December. Hope is eight years old and was the fifteenth eagle to be released by the zoo as part of the Belize Harpy Eagle Restoration Program. He is also symbolic to the issue of Climate Change, but as we speak Hope is at risk. While the birds usually stay in highly forested areas, Hope has wondered into the area of Spanish Lookout. Being the largest type of eagle, populated communities may feel threatened by Hope and may try to harm him. But Founding Director of the Belize Zoo, Sharon Matola, assures that the eagle is no threat to the adults, children or animals. Matola is asking anyone who sees the bird to leave it alone so that it may eventually return to the forest unharmed.

Channel 5

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,392

Where In The World is Hope The Harpy?

Harpy eagle....

The Hunt is on for Hope The Harpy Eagle - who's gone missing again. Like Carmen Sandiego, her sponsors are asking where in the world is Hope the Harpy?

Sharon Matola had some broad suggestions that she shared with Jim McFadzean today:....

There are only an estimated 25 of the majestic birds of prey known as Harpy eagle in our forests and maybe that's why concern is growing for Hope the Harpy eagle who is said to have gone off course during one of its customary flights over the country. The eight year old eagle that graces one of the 60 cent stamp edition of the Belize postal service is said to have been last sighted and tracked in the Blue Creek area.

Sharon Mattola, Director, Belize Zoo
"Hope is not the most behaved harpy eagle, if hope was then he would stay in the Selva Maya, he would hunt his iguanas, take the odd kinky juno again, dine on colatis, but no he's got to be travelling too far south, and we know from our radio tracking, that he is now on the cusp of Spanish Lookout. It's not in a hunting mode, it's no other reason than I'm just a curious bird and I'm having a look around, and that's how Harpy eagles are, they are extremely intelligent."

Known as one of the top predatory birds indigenous to this area, an area which stretches from the Southern tip of Mexico to the Northern tip of South America, the Harpy eagle's greatest enemies are climate change, deforestation and man.

Sharon Mattola
"Over the years�"their population have been reduced significantly, mainly due to hunting pressure. They are fierce looking birds, and they are big and they look mean, but having studied them and having worked with two of them at the Zoo I can tell you they have the most gentle natures, they really do, however if you do not know that I think intrinsically and instinctively, you fear them, and that's what's led to them getting shot and persecuted over the years."

While the life span in captivity for the Harpy eagle is an estimated 40 years, in the wild that estimate is said to translate into a gamble�..Reporting for Seven News, I'm Jim McFadzean.

Channel 7

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,392

Hope, the 8 year old Harpy Eagle introduced to Belize by the Belize Zoo last December, has gone missing.

Belize Zoo Director/Founder Sharon Matola said satellite telemetry had tracked Hope's radio tracking device near the Blue Creek in the Orange Walk districts, but its movements indicate it is not in a hunting mode. Matola believes Hope may have gone off course.

Over the years the population of Harpy Eagles has been reduced significantly, mainly due to hunting pressure. They are big, fierce-looking birds, and they appear mean.

Having studied them and having worked with two of them at the Zoo, Matola said she has come to understand they have the most gentle natures, but they have been shot and persecuted over the years because human beings fear them. They have a life expectancy of 40 years in the wild, but their greatest enemies are climate change, deforestation and man.

Matola said the eagle is no threat to human beings or animals and asked for anyone who may see Hope not to harm the bird.

The Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja), sometimes known as the American Harpy Eagle, is a neotropical species, first described by Linnaeus in his Systema naturae in 1758 as Vultur harpyja. It is the only member of the genus Harpia.

It is the largest and most powerful raptor found in America, and among the largest extant species of eagles in the world. It usually inhabits tropical lowland rainforests in the upper (emergent) canopy layer.
Its name refers to the harpies of Ancient Greek mythology. These were wind spirits that took the dead to Hades, and were said to have a body like an eagle and the face of a human.

The species is an actively hunting carnivore whose main prey are tree-dwelling mammals such as sloths and monkeys.

The Belize Harpy Eagle Restoration Project was begun in 2003 with the collaboration of Sharon Matola and The Peregrine Fund. The goal of this project was the re-establishment of the Harpy Eagle within Belize. The bird's population declined as a result of forest fragmentation, shooting, and nest destruction, resulting in local extinction of the species in Belize. Captive bred Harpy Eagles were released in the Rio Bravo Conservation and Management Area in Belize, chosen for its quality forest habitat and linkages with Guatemala and Mexico, which was important for conservation of quality habitat for the harpy eagle on a regional level. As of November 2009, 14 harpy eagles have been released and are monitored by the Peregrine Fund through satellite telemetry.

The Reporter

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