Poitou Charentes and Limousin: Protecting Booted and Short-toed Eagles

The Regions

Poitou-Charentes and Limousin are regions in Central Western France covering about 42,000 km2. The Natural Area Conservatory is an association of regional stakeholders aiming to preserve and promote natural areas of ecological interest and outstanding beauty. The Conservatory intervenes directly in managing these sites and supports regional actors with similar objectives, such as the Limousin Society for Bird Studies and Protection .

The Challenge

While globally the Booted Eagle and the Short-toed Eagle are not threatened species, in France they are classified as vulnerable. In the two regions, the Natural Area Conservatory, or the Limousin Society for Bird Studies and Protection, sought to improve their knowledge of the bird’s migration, reproduction and hunting patterns in order to take better informed decisions about protection measures. Furthermore, the organisations sought to raise awareness of the species among nature lovers and other relevant organisations, such as the Forest Administration, and to provide objective advice about their conservation. 

The Satellite Solution

The birds of the two species are tracked thanks to a solar-powered transmitter mounted on their backs, which emits GPS signals indicating the birds’ location. Since 2007, several couples of Booted Eagles in Limousin and two juvenile Short-toed Eagles have been equipped with transmitters in Poitou-Charentes, allowing observers to follow their migration across the Strait of Gibraltar to Central-Western Africa (Nigeria, Mali, Burkina-Faso) and back. The GPS locations were pinpointed on Google maps and posted on the Conservatory’s website.

The Results

The tracking of the birds has provided the information necessary to calculate the surface needed around the nests to ensure the peace and quiet needed for the birds’ successful reproduction (between 15 and 25 hectares).
In 2009, this knowledge has led Poitou-Charentes to buy approx. 50 hectares of land surrounding the nests of two couples of birds, while a similar programme is being put together in Limousin. The notion of a 20 hectare “quiet zone” around nests has also been included in the Natura 2000 objectives of the protected site “Vallée de la Dordogne” in Limousin.