The Steppe Eagle (Aquila nipalensis) is a long-distance trans-equatorial migrant. Unlike many other eagles, the species migrates in large, loose flocks. Its migration is cyclical and predictable wherein most individuals leave their breeding grounds for wintering grounds between August and October, returning to breeding areas between January and May. Steppe Eagles may make migratory movements of many thousands of kilometers crossing numerous national jurisdictional boundaries.
Only recently on February 15, 2018, a Steppe Eagle that was tagged with GPS satellite tracking in Mongolia was rescued from Nepal's Rautahat district in Fatuwa Bijayapur Municipality, Ward-1. One week after the eagle was found in a critical condition, today it was released successfully. "The bird was severely sick when it was brought to us, likely caused by nutrition deficiency," says NTNC’s Executive Director Dr. Siddhartha B. Bajracharya.
But after being kept in the quarantine facility at NTNC-Central Zoo, under intensive care, and having gained its health, the globally endangered bird was deemed fit for release. It was released in the pine hills of Chobar this morning (on February 23) in the presence of the Director General (DG) and the Deputy DG of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), including senior officials from NTNC, and the Zoological Society of London. Also present during the occasion was the Honorary Consul of Mongolia in Nepal – Mr. Tsetan G. Shrestha, who shared great admiration in the rescue and release responsiveness.
Initial rescue of the eagle was made possible only after the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) was intimated about the eagle's plight by researchers from Mongolia. Being monitored for research purposes, the Steppe Eagle was found tagged with a satellite transmitter ID labeled 'mwb1621' on its back, and a metal ring on its right foot labeled '27 ornth LAB inst biol mongolia'. As a matter of fact, “what we know from the satellite map readings is that the bird had recently traversed from Bangladesh, before flying into Nepal” shared Dr. Hem Sagar Baral from ZSL.
The Steppe Eagle is a migratory raptor which has undergone extremely rapid population decline in recent times causing the species to be listed as 'Endangered' in the 2015 IUCN Red List assessment. "Being a long-distance trans-boundary migratory bird, international cooperation is all the more vital for the recovery and long-term conservation of this species," advised the DNPWC DG, Mr. Man Bahadur Khadka during the release event.