The 53-day-old Roodekrans black eagle chick was found dead in the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens in Johannesburg on Monday evening.
Gerald Draper, chairperson of Black Eagle Project Roodekrans, said in a statement that the last confirmed sighting of the chick alive was on Saturday at 17:36 when a video was taken of the female eagle, Makatsa, feeding the chick on the nest.
"On Sunday morning, a resident of Featherbrooke Estate reported that they had seen the chick on the nest from their telescope on their veranda. Project Members on duty at the waterfall on Sunday confirmed in the morning report that they had not seen the chick by the time their shift ended at 12:00," Draper said.
"This was not regarded as unusual, as it often happens that we only catch a glimpse from the monitoring point a few times a day. On Monday, photographers who had been at the botanical gardens in the morning, reported to the project that they had not seen the chick at all during the time they were there.
"We were then alerted that a member of the public had posted a photograph on Facebook of an adult eagle removing the chick from the nest on Sunday afternoon at 12:30.
"After carefully studying the picture, it did appear to be the case, and four project members met at the gardens. The area in proximity to the nest was searched, and the carcass of the chick was recovered approximately 80m away at just before 18:00."
These remains will be sent for analysis, Draper said.
He added that the photograph shows an adult eagle removing a chick from the nest and does not in any way suggest that it had been killed.
"Three scenarios are possible – the chick could have died from disease, starvation, or it could have been deliberately killed by one of the adults," Draper said.
News24 earlier reported that a new male black eagle had made the gardens his home on July 13.
This after the previous male, Thulani, disappeared at the beginning of June. He had been living in the gardens since 1998.
The gardens' female eagle, Makatsa, was left alone with the chick and had been raising it by herself.
Draper told News24 at the time that there was no previous published record of an adult black eagle changing her mate while attending to a chick on the nest.
"We are in a new space right now."
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