SELATI'S VERREAUX'S EAGLES
In the vast skies of Africa, a captivating bird of prey known as the Verreaux’s Eagle, or the Black Eagle, displays its elegance and grandeur, entrancing all those who behold it. This extraordinary bird symbolises the varied avian inhabitants of Africa, noted for its unique attributes, geographical range, and distinctiveness.
The Verreaux’s Eagle is primarily found in the mountainous regions of sub-Saharan Africa, spanning countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, and Namibia. It favours habitats marked by cliffs, rocky outcrops, and escarpments, providing optimal vantage points for hunting.
The Lillie hills in the Selati Game Reserve have long served as a breeding ground for the Verreaux’s Eagles.
Among the most striking features of this eagle is its immense size, ranking it amongst Africa’s largest eagles. With a wingspan reaching up to 2.4 metres (7.9 feet) and an average weight of around 3.5 kilograms (7.7 pounds), its plumage is predominantly dark brown, with the head and neck adorned with a lighter shade and a distinctive crest. Its piercing yellow eyes and robust talons contribute to its formidable appearance.
The Verreaux’s Eagle is a proficient hunter, depending on its exceptional aerial agility and speed. It feeds on small to medium-sized mammals such as hyraxes and rock dassies, and birds like francolins and guinea fowls. Employing a blend of soaring, gliding, and precision manoeuvring, it identifies and seizes its prey, often snatching animals from the ground or cliffs with remarkable accuracy.
Given its relative scarcity and localised distribution, the Verreaux’s Eagle occupies a special status among birds of prey. Challenges such as habitat loss, human interference, and occasional persecution threaten its population. As a result, it has been categorised as a near-threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Conservation endeavours aim to preserve its habitats, promote awareness, and study its biology to assure its long-term survival.
Verreaux’s Eagle nest on Selati
Photo credit – Shane Wilken
The Verreaux’s Eagle also holds cultural significance in the regions it inhabits, symbolising power and strength in some African communities and carrying spiritual importance. Local conservation initiatives and organisations collaborate with communities to safeguard the eagle’s habitat, raise awareness, and foster sustainable practices that mutually benefit humans and the environment.