Project duration: 02/2023 – 08/2024
The Five Finger Mountain range (Pentadaktylos/Beşparmak), is declared as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA) and is a potential Natura 2000 area, yet, it is not managed as part of the network of Special Environmental Protected Areas (SEPA). Similarly, wetland habitats on the Mesaoria Plain have IBA status, but are not afforded protection under the SEPA network. Bonelli eagles (Aquila fasciata), due to their declining population, are listed on Annex I of the Wild Bird Directive and an action plan has been established for the species in Europe, including actions to protect the species’ most important breeding and dispersal areas. The Five Finger Mountains are considered a key breeding site on the island for bonelli’s eagle, while wetlands are thought to be used heavily by the species during inter-breeding periods. Yet, since these sites do not form part of the SEPA network, active management for the species in this region is low.
This project aims to provide certainty towards refining the management plans for the Five Finger Mountain range and other Cyprus IBAs, by understanding the habitat use of a top predator and keystone species that connects multiple IBAs, the last eagle of Cyprus, Bonelli’s eagle. The project will track bonelli’s eagles from breeding sites in the northern part of Cyprus, the first such study for the species in this region. The results will demonstrate the range of eagles allowing an understanding of the breadth of habitat protection needed to adequately conserve the species during its first years. Foraging areas and movement corridors will be identified, mapped and analyzed data layers will be made available to all authorities and published.
- Track four bonelli’s eagles in the Five Finger Mountain Range, and publish a report on the habitat use of bonelli’s eagle in the region.
- Produce a short awareness film on KUŞKOR bonellis eagle work and the species’ importance.
- Advocate for an update to policy based on the findings, including the designation of IBAs as SEPAs for sites identified, and update of existing SEPA management plans.
A bit about the organization
KUŞKOR, The Society for Protection of Birds and Nature, is among the longest-established conservation NGOs on the island and has been operating since 1988. The organization’s activities have focused on conservation through research, education, and advocacy for protection of bird habitats. Core conservation programs include identification, monitoring and protection of key habitats as Important Bird Areas, and conservation projects focused on specific flagship species such as European roller, bonelli’s eagle and audouin’s gull. KUŞKOR have been monitoring bonelli’s eagle for over ten years and in collaboration with UK raptor experts, established a colour-ringing project to study the behaviour of the species more closely in 2022.
*This project is co-funded by the Ornithological Society of the Middle East