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The Peregrine Fund Notes From The Field
First Independent Harpy Eagle Released in Bocas del Toro, Panamá
Kathia Herrera — in Harpy Eagle Conservation and Research    ShareOn 1 June 2004, members of the Bonyic and Solon communities in Bocas del Toro, representatives from ANAM (the environmental authority), and members of the media joined The Peregrine Fund-Panama (TPFP) for the release of a three-year-old Harpy Eagle, named “2001.” 2001 was hatched and raised in captivity at TPFP’s Neotropical Raptor Center in Panama. She was released as a young bird into Soberania National Park. There, biologists monitored her regularly and provided her with food, until they were sure that she was able to successfully hunt on her own. Since she reached complete independence of our care, it was time to re-release her into a more remote forest within Panama.

This second release, known as a hard release, took place in the rain forest in a remote area known as Rancho Quemado, along the Bonyic River. In total 45 people witnessed this event. On the way to the release area, we had to cross a deep river seven times just to get there! However, even though the going was rough, nothing could stop the men, women, and children who left the comfort of their homes, their chores, and their work to walk two hours to witness this unprecedented event.

If it was a long journey for the people; it was even longer for 2001. We re-trapped this Harpy Eagle on 31 May in Soberania National Park and placed her in a large kennel. She then traveled by air, land, boat, and was finally carried by community members who were proud to bring a Harpy Eagle, the national bird of Panama, to her release site. The locals began calling this bird Terdi, their name for the Teribe River.

We arrived at the release site early enough in the day for the Harpy Eagle to have time to settle comfortably into the area. We opened the door to the kennel and she exited rapidly. She then flew into a nearby tree and took in her surroundings.

Now, we only have to wait for nature to do the rest. In a few years we hope that 2001 will find a mate and reproduce, thereby increasing the number and genetic diversity of this species in the wild.


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