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Saving Raptors

The Wedge Tailed Eagle  (Aquila Audax) Australia's largest Raptor is found throughout Australia, Tasmania and the Southern parts of New Guinea

Image courtesy of JJ Harrison ( [CC BY-SA 3.0

Much of what needs to be done to ensure the survival of Raptors, needs to happen at the level of government as for instance, setting aside prime habitat and making sure that it is monitored and protected. Cooperation between regions and governments is also important especially with regard to migratory species.Unfortunately, the Memoranda of Understanding regarding Migratory Birds and Raptors is not binding and many countries, especially countries with the most species such as China and Russia, are not yet signatories. 

Despite this, great strides have been made, identifying hotspots and major problems, improving law enforcement, especially with regard killing, taking and trading of Raptors – now the third largest international crime category after illegal sales of arms and narcotics, by training more officers, increasing penalties and conducting more research. The EU is currently considering the banning of lead shot and lead fishing weights in wetlands – another source of Raptor decline. Such meetings raise awareness and provide excellent role models for other countries, whether they are members or not. 

All Raptors in Australia are protected and may not be shot or traded. Currently the penalties are up to $210,000 or ten years in prison for attempting to smuggle or trade wildlife, not just birds of prey.  

 With respect to utility poles and the like, in addition to those innovations already mentioned in the previous post, sheathing, bundling, insulating wires, increasing the space between them or placing them underground, would all help to reduce Raptor mortality.  Sometimes such structures can even help. I read recently that Telstra  is allowing its redundant telegraph poles on the treeless Nullabor Plain to remain in situ for use by Raptors, but other companies have yet to follow suit.

Controlling and monitoring the use of poisons and destructive pest control remain problems. 
Landowners have a special responsibility in that regard, as well as in maintaining habitat and breeding places. Instead of rewarding landowners with tax breaks for clearing land, perhaps they should instead be rewarded for good environmental practices such as preserving habitat and flyways, for creating buffer zones and protecting nesting sites. This would benefit not only Raptors but other species  as well, including domesticated stock. Successful land management and pest control strategies could be shared with other farmers via the media and trade shows. Rather than seeing this as a burden, some enlightened farmers are seeing opportunities in eco –tourism. 

 Given that only 20% of Tasmania’s prime Raptor territory is on Crown land or in reserves,covenants over valuable habitat on private land such as we have to a limited extent in Tasmania, may be a workable option, especially in poorer regions.  Read the full report by Dr. Penny Olsen at Birdlife. org. for more information.

As far as individuals go, membership of, donation to or volunteering with groups such as Birdlife Australia, Landcare, Bushcare and Coastcare will encourage the preservation  and restoration of Raptor habitat.  Aussies can click here to find a group near you. Getting other stakeholders on board such as Rock climbers in the case of Sea Eagles, is important too.  A minor relocation of some activities, or fencing off critical areas, may make a big difference. Hunters and fishers can help too by switching to non -lead bullets and sinkers and by reporting violations.

If you see illegal shooting, trapping or persecution of Raptors, this should be reported to local Wildlife Officers or Police.  Should you find injured birds, take them to your nearest rescue centre for care and rehabilitation.  Refuges and sanctuaries have an additional role to play in educating the public and may even offer tours. Some of the main ones in Australia are listed below, although there are national, regional and international bodies who care about Raptors as well, though they are too numerous to list here. 

 Meanwhile, October is National Raptor Month. Watch out for the International Raptor Conference in Bali between 10  Several countries are also offering Raptor Tours. I have no idea about the quality of these, but provided that the Raptors themselves are not harmed in the process, it is another way to heighten awareness as well as raising funds for their protection.  

Raptor sanctuaries in Australia (not in any particular order).

Raptor Refuge, Tasmania  or call 1800727867



Australian Animal Rescue Inc

Australian Fauna Care

Australian Seabird Rescue


Bird Care & Conservation Society SA Inc

Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary - Tasmania

Brisbane Area Rescue Network (BARN)

Central North Wildlife Care and Rescue Tasmania

Emergency Wildlife Care & Emergency Seabird Rescue

F.A.W.N.A - WA

FAUNA Association: QLD

Fauna Rescue of South Australia Inc

Mission Beach Wildcare

North Queensland Wildlife Care

Orphaned Native Animal Raise & Release Association Inc. - Barellan Point QLD

Redlands 24 hour Wildlife Rescue

SA Bird of Prey Rehabilitation Centre

Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Services

WA Conservation of Raptors

Western Australia StateWide 24 hour Wildcare Helpline

Wildcare Inc NT

Wildlife Animal Rescue & Care Society Inc. (Wildlife ARC)

Wildlife Victoria