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Blog posts related to Steppe eagles trapped and tracked from Oman in 2017 can be found on the Egyptian vulture blog

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Steppe eagles dying while on migration

by Mike McGrady and Bernd Meyburg

It is with sadness that we receive a report of about 30 Steppe eagles (and at least one Eastern imperial eagle) being found either dead in Iran, The photos below appeared in Iranian newspapers.  They show some of the birds, including some that are not dead.  Those that were alive were taken into veterinary care.  The birds were apparently sickened when feeding on chicken carcasses dumped along the roadside near Sarvestan (South part of the country).

We have not heard whether the poison has been identified or whether it is a natural toxin (e.g. botulism) or something anthropogenic.  Apparently, such events happen regularly during migration in Iran.  Also, there are reports of similar mortality events in India and along the migratory routes of eagles and vultures in south central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, but we know nothing of the scale.

Landfills and dump sites are sources of food for scavenging birds (indeed our tracked birds have spent every winter at dump sites in Oman and Saudi Arabia.  See earlier blog posts), and could have a positive effect, if they do not expose the birds to toxic material.  This can be achieved by proper segregation and disposal of toxic waste.  In Oman, globally important numbers of endangered vultures and eagles use the landfills and waste transfer sites.  If the food available to the scavengers there is safe, then the scavengers can benefit.

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