In October 2015, three Spanish Imperial Eagles were found electrocuted in the Guelmim region, southern Morocco. It was thanks to a satellite-tracked eagle that these birds were found by Ali Irizi and two agents from the Moroccan Forestry Administration. This bird was one of six Spanish Imperial Eagles fitted with satellite transmitters in 2015 (and all have visited Morocco!) by researchers of the Doñana Biological Station (EBD-CSIC) in the framework of a reintroduction program carried out by the Andalusian Government (Morandini et al. 2016). In two other visits in November and December, Ali Irizi found 6 electrocuted Bonelli’s Eagles in the same region (Amezian et al. 2015).
In January 2016, an Ibero-Moroccan team organised an expedition to the Guelmim region to get more details about the electrocution of raptors. A report detailing the findings was published by IUCN-Med (Godino et al. 2016). Here are the main results:
In this area, 70 electrocuted birds (mostly young) from seven different species were found on 403 pylons: 4 White Storks (Ciconia ciconia), 4 Spanish Imperial Eagles (Aquila adalberti), 5 Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), 40 Bonelli’s Eagles (Aquila fasciata), 12 Atlas Long-legged Buzzards (Buteo rufinus cirtensis), 4 Lanner Falcons (Falco biarmicus) and 1 Pharaoh Eagle-Owl (Bubo ascalaphus). It should be noted that the eagles (3 Spanish Imperial, 7 Bonelli’s and 1 Golden) found electrocuted in autumn 2015 by Ali Irizi were also found in January 2016. This allowed us to study the rate of decay of the carcasses which is an important factor in the study of electrocutions because it’s affected by the environment and climate.
Although the majority of the eagles that visit Morocco are non-breeding young, a three-year old Spanish Imperial Eagle that was found electrocuted in the region by Houssien Kharraz on 5 March 2016 (photo 4) shows that some older eagles which can breed also visit and winter in Morocco. Indeed, three years is the age at which eagles already start to breed in recolonisation areas (García & Garrido 2015). As long as the dangerous pylons are not retrofitted, the region will remain a death trap for these populations, including preventing a potential recolonisation of Spanish Imperial Eagle in Morocco through a new population established in southern Spain and by the increase of the Iberian population of the species (Morandini et al. 2016). Of course this rate of electrocution can also easily affect the dynamics and conservation of Moroccan and regional populations of Bonelli’s Eagle.
Amezian, M., Irizi, A., Errati, A., Loran, H., El Khamlichi, R., Morandini, V., González, D. G., Garrido, J. R. 2015. Spanish Imperial Eagles and other eagles found electrocuted in Morocco and proposition of correction measures. figshare. http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1613292
García, D. y Garrido, J.R. 2015. Informe sobre el seguimiento de la población de águila imperial ibérica en 2013. Plan de Recuperación del águila imperial ibérica (Aquila adalberti) en Andalucía. Unpublished report. Consejería de Medio Ambiente y Ordenación del Territorio, Junta de Andalucía.
Godino, A., Garrido, J.R., El Khamlichi, R., Burón, D., Machado, C., Amezian, M., Irizi, A., Numa, C. & Barrios, V. 2016. Identification de la mortalité des rapaces par électrocution dans le sud-ouest du Maroc. UICN, Malaga. 76 pp.
Morandini, V., Florencio, C., Garrido, J. R., Muñoz, F., de Diego, S., González, M., Torralvo, C. & Ferrer, M. 2016. Aguila imperial ibérica: recuperando espacio más allá de las fronteras. Quercus (361): 24–29.
Read more about bird electrocution here.