The extinction of birds of prey in Africa

They are disappearing. It is almost 90% of 42 species of African birds of prey that were examined in a new study. They are decreasing in number and more than two thirds can be classified as globally threatened. The extinction of birds of prey in Africa causes great concern.

The University of St Andrews and The Peregrine Fund are leading the research. It combines counts from field studies from four African regions at intervals of approximately 20 to 40 years. It reveals patterns of change in the abundance of savanna raptor species. Their results are published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

The extinction of African birds of prey seems to have no answers.
The extinction of African birds of prey seems to have no answers.

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Large species of birds of prey experience much greater declines than smaller species. It happens particularly in unprotected lands, where they are more vulnerable to persecution and other human pressures. Birds of prey have declined more than twice as fast outside national parks, reserves and other protected areas as inside them.

Many of the threats currently facing African birds of prey are not effectively addressed. The large and charismatic species of eagles and vultures are unlikely to persist here. Some endemic African species are at risk. Wahlberg's eagle, African hawk eagle, long crested eagle, African harrier hawk and others. And they are declining at a rate that suggests they may now be globally threatened.

Other familiar and widespread raptor species are now scarce or absent on unprotected lands. They include one of Africa's most powerful birds of prey, the martial eagle, as well as the distinctive flying eagle. They said it's a statement: «Since the 1970s, extensive areas of forest and savannah have been converted to cropland. The human population is expected to double in the next 35 years. “Africa's protected area network needs to be expanded more than ever.”

These birds are exposed to multiple threats.
These birds are exposed to multiple threats.


Africa is at a crossroads in terms of saving its magnificent birds of prey. In many areas these species are almost extinct. One of Africa's most iconic birds of prey, the secretary bird, is on the brink of extinction. It is a combination of many others caused by man.

The extinction of Africa's birds of prey seems unstoppable. The reduction of habitat does not stop. Other major threats include unintentional poisoning or electrocution at power poles. And slaughter for food and belief-based purposes.

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