11 April 2017 – Shocking low numbers of raptors in Morocco

‘The past month (March 2017) in southern Morocco, I have driven along 100s of kilometres of pylons. The number of perching large raptors roosting on them was shockingly low. Quite a difference with a few decades ago, when one could see quite a number of various raptor species using such masts as a perch. Apart from some falcons and a few Long-legged Buzzards, both in lower numbers than before, this Bonelli’s Eagle was the only large perched raptor I came across. It was at Iriri, west of Ouarzazate.

Obviously, numbers of Black Kites, harriers, a Short-toed Snake Eagle and a handful of Booted Eagles flew past north in March, all on migration it seemed. However, local breeding birds other than Bonelli’s Eagle seemed absent from many places.

I have rarely noticed anybody shooting at raptors in Morocco, so the obvious reduction in numbers must come from another reason. Would that be electrocution? Or rather poisoning, or may it be the result from the continuous habit of locals collecting young birds from the nest for trade?’

(Arnoud van den Berg)

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