Eagle attack ‘unusual’

2015-07-30 08:16
The Crowned Eagle that swooped down on an unsuspecting Pekingese dog in the yard of a Clarendon home yesterday was caught on camera.

The Crowned Eagle that swooped down on an unsuspecting Pekingese dog in the yard of a Clarendon home yesterday was caught on camera. (Supplied)

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PIETERMARTIZBURG pet owners have been asked not to panic after a Crowned Eagle yesterday made a meal of a little dog in Clarendon.

In what was described as a “rare occurrence” a large Crowned Eagle swooped down on an unsuspecting Pekingese dog in the yard of a Clarendon home yesterday morning, leaving a family in distress after losing their pooch to the large bird of prey.

The incident caused hype on social media yesterday, but pet owners have been reassured that the incident was an isolated one and it is not a cause for panic.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, John Carlyon from the Clarendon Veterinary Clinic said the incident was “rare and unusual”.

According to Carlyon, the bird is believed to be a young, immature Crowned Eagle that was probably driven by extreme hunger to take a domestic animal. “While this is a very unfortunate incident, and I do sympathise with the owner on her loss, it should not result in bad press for the Crowned Eagle,” Carlyon said.

Carlyon said one of his concerns is the frequency of Crowned Eagles being shot and killed, resulting in the species falling under the “red-data” group which means the population has become vulnerable in the country.

“They [Crowned Eagles] have recently become regarded as an endangered species in Africa and this is partly as a result of persecution. Tragically many of these magnificent birds are still being shot indiscriminately,” Carlyon said.

The Witness spoke to the owners of the little Pekingese, who asked not to be named.

According to the owner, they were advised by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife not to create any hype around the incident, in fear of it causing widespread panic and further targeting of the eagle.

“Unfortunately it is a natural occurrence and there is nothing we can do,” the owner said.

Carlyon further quoted research by one of the country’s leading experts in eagle behaviour, Shane McPherson.

According to McPherson’s research on the prey patterns of Crowned Eagles in Durban, urban areas appear to offer a large amount of prey that Crowned Eagles can use.

Using a camera-trap technique to assess the urban prey, McPherson analysed 1 200 days of continuous timelapse footage from 11 urban nests and was able to identify 85% of the species making up the 836 animals delivered to the nest of Crowned Eagles.

According to the findings, 42% of all prey during the breeding season were dassies and 19% were hadeda ibis nestlings.

In McPherson’s research, no dog was recorded being delivered to the nest of a breeding eagle, and cats accounted for 0,8% of the number.

McPherson could not be contacted for comment yesterday

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  animals

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