The recent widespread practice of placing radio transmitters on wild animals is a source of curious information about the hidden life of our fellow beings. In previous shows, we have already told you about the wanderings of several adventurous young vultures which flew to distant countries. One of them, the Griffon vulture with identification number K07, earned himself the nickname The Flying Dutchman for its many escapades. It was last spotted throughout Turkey and was later found in distress nowhere else but in a military base near Edirne (near the Bulgarian-Turkish border). Through the cooperation of Turkish conservationists and veterinarians, the bird was healed and returned to Bulgaria amidst the heavy snowfalls in March.
Environmentalists have also received interesting information from the transmitter attached to a female golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). The bird was found helpless in a forest in northwestern Bulgaria and taken to the Wildlife Rescue Center of the environmental organization "Green Balkans", which is located in Stara Zagora (Southern Bulgaria). The specialists there could not determine what had caused the extremely exhausted state of the bird, but managed to help it regain its strength and weight within three months only. The female bird, however, created quite a few problems for her rescuers, thus earning the nickname “Buyana”, meaning naughty and hot-tempered.
Dobromir Dobrinov from the Green Balkans told Radio Bulgaria more:
"The bird was very lively in temperament and behavior while it was with us at the Rescue Center. It was hanging upside down in the cell and when my colleagues had to feed it and came near it, it kept acting violently. But this behavior is characteristic of the species. The golden eagle is the most aggressive species of all large eagles in Bulgaria."
The female golden eagle Buyana is the first bird of this species to which a GPS-GSM transmitter was attached. The device was donated by a Bulgarian company manufacturing such equipment since recently. So the experts were able to obtain information about the movement of the bird averagely 42 times a day and successfully track its adaptation in wild nature after it was released back into the area where it was initially found.
"The bird moved at a distance of 12 km from the place where we released it and remained in an area with a radius of 10-20 km. Apparently, it was its preferred habitat. At 10-15 km away, there are appropriate high cliffs where it could nest, but the eagle would rather prefer the tall trees in the foothills. It went hunting there, as far as we managed to establish by the change in speed. The standard flight of this species of eagle is usually done at a speed of 40 to 80 km/h. Speeds over 100 km/h are used for the characteristic diving that these birds perform when hunting. Although raptors are very good hunters, even with the golden eagle not all attacks are successful. Within 30 days, we found some 10 cases of diving", Dobromir Dobrinov says.
Here Dobromir Dobrinov makes the proviso that the frequency of transmission of the GPS depends largely on the intensity of the light that charges the batteries. Since they did not have a complete picture of the activities of Buyana throughout the day, it is quite possible that certain information about cases of diving did not reach them. However, the expert believes that nevertheless, environmentalists have learned a lot about this type of eagles, which are not critically endangered worldwide. Their population in Bulgaria is relatively stable - from 120 to 200 pairs depending on the season, Dobrinov states. For this reason, the Golden Eagle is still not sufficiently studied.
"The information we received was sufficient to see that Buyana was adapting to this area, it had found its specific habitat suitable for hunting. Interestingly, the bird never stayed in one place and was constantly crossing the area. In fact, we learned that the Golden Eagle is an extremely dynamic species. Buyana rarely rested, she was constantly flying and apparently was in good condition. And we were excited because it showed the success of the treatment we conducted at the Rescue Center.
However, the joy to the rescuers of Buyana did not last long. There is something environmentalists fear most when attaching a radio transmitter on an animal – it’s either that the signal might disappear or that it might remain in one place for days. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to this particular female Golden Eagle.
"After just over a month, the transmitter suddenly stopped sending a signal. My colleagues and I were very worried and we even considered organizing a search expedition. Six days after it went silent, the transmitter sent a signal showing that it stood inverted in space, which meant that the eagle had died. The director of the Rescue Center Dr. Ivaylo Klisurov immediately went to the spot and found the bird lifeless, and many of its internal organs had already been eaten by wild animals,” Dobromir Dobrinov explains.
Due to this fact, an autopsy was performed on Buyana but it could not answer the question whether the bird was poisoned or shot by poachers. A sad and alarming end. Experts were hoping that Buyana, a female eagle aged 3 to 4 years, would start nesting this year. But alas, the reality today is fierce even for the lords of the sky - the majestic eagles.
English version Rossitsa Petcova