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The Peregrine Fund Notes From The Field
“SWEET BABY JAMES”
Angel Muela — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research    Share
In August 2000, one of our Harpy Eagles, James, was shot and killed by a poacher just outside of the Barro Colorado Nature Monument, an island within the Pamana Canal. James (named thus because one of his transmitter frequencies ended in 007—"James Bond") was released on Barro Colorado Island (BCI) a year before and had yielded vast amounts of information on Harpy Eagle biology. James hatched in September 1997 and was released in nearby Soberania National Park in March 1998. A few months later, we trapped him in Soberania National Park, as he was roaming areas known to have poacher activity. James was then used as an educational bird and visited many schools and communities.

After consolidating a collaboration agreement with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) we released James again, this time on BCI, a highly protected environment with a large prey base and 80 years of data on the flora and fauna occurring there. For more than 14 months we collected daily data on his foraging behavior and other aspects of his ecology.

Barro Colorado is surrounded by a number of peninsulas that are connected to the mainland and are also part of the Monument, acting as a buffer zone for the island. Young Harpy Eagles, like many other birds, undergo periods of dispersal, which is why James may have explored the nearby peninsulas in spite of the prey richness found on the island. These peninsulas are heavily patrolled by park rangers and are also a safe environment for animals. However, it only took one day outside of the protected area for James to be mortally wounded.

As a consequence we have expanded our educational efforts in the villages that surround the island. We have dedicated one of our biologists to organize talks and involve those communities in protecting their national treasure and, thus far, we have seen a very positive response from residents.

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