Thanks to conservation efforts started in the 1980s, the Hungarian population of the eastern imperial eagle has come back from the brink of extinction, reaching 160 pairs by 2014. The Pannonian biogeographical region (which includes all of Hungary and parts of Slovakia, Romania, Czech Republic, Croatia, Serbia and Ukraine) now holds some 220 pairs of this priority raptor species (Annex 1 of the EU Birds Directive). However, this small population is still vulnerable. Predator persecution, especially from illegal poisoning, is the main threat for the eastern imperial eagle in the Pannonian biogeographical region, representing more than 30% of known mortality causes. Persecution also affects other protected raptor species, including another Annex I-listed bird, the saker falcon. Combating illegal bird poisoning is in line with the anti-poison policy of the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.
The main objective of the PannonEagle Life project is to increase the population of the eastern imperial eagle in the Pannonian biogeographical region through a significant decrease in deaths from non-natural causes, i.e. primarily by persecution incidents.
Specific objectives are to: Increase the chance of detecting illegal activities and of successful prosecutions;Increase understanding of the true, minimal impact of raptors on game species and encourage raptor-friendly game management methods; and Increase public awareness of the conservation importance of the eastern imperial eagle and of the possible consequences of persecution.
Expected results: The project expects to achieve the following results: An increase of more than 10% in the breeding population of the eastern imperial eagle in the Pannonian region (to more than 250 breeding pairs). This would result in a 9% increase in the EU population;A breeding rate of over 1.0 fledglings per breeding pair during the project;A reduction in the number of eastern imperial eagle and saker falcon deaths caused by persecution to fewer than five per year. The annual mortality rate of the eastern imperial eagle is expected to be less than 12% by the end of the project; Rehabilitation of more than 30% of eastern imperial eagles and saker falcons injured in persecution incidents; More than 500 stakeholders from target groups to visit the eagle rehabilitation centre; At least three successful convictions of individuals prosecuted for illegal killing of the target raptor species; and More than 1 000 media reports about the project, reaching an audience of over 10 million, with more than 1 million visitors to the project’s website and social media channels.