25 de agosto de 2019
English - News

Argentine biologist offers hope for endangered Chaco eagle

By Pablo Ramon Ochoa

Buenos Aires, Jul 20 (efe-epa).- The course of Jose Sarasola's life changed 19 years ago when he first came across a Chaco eagle - one that had been killed by a rancher and hung from a railing as a warning to other birds.

The studies he has carried out since then on that endangered raptor made him one of the recipients of the United Kingdom's prestigious Whitley Awards this year.

But Sarasola told EFE in an interview that he is most satisfied at having played a part in changing community perceptions about this large South American bird of prey.

"It's been very gratifying because when we started working with the eagle there was practically no awareness about it," Sarasola said two months after receiving his so-called "Green Oscar" - and a 40,000-pound ($49,640) cash prize - from Princess Anne at a ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society in London.

Sarasola was recognized there for his nearly two decades of conservation efforts, including going door to door and trying to show the modern day gauchos (ranchers) of central-western Argentina why that bird (Buteogallus coronatus), which is also found in parts of Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, should be protected.

The dead eagle he found those many years ago had been placed on a railing by a rancher in La Pampa province as a warning to other birds, who were believed to attack young livestock.

It turned out, however, that the perception of that rancher and many others was false: the gray Chaco eagle, also known as the crowned solitary eagle due to its large occipital crest, hunts around 600 different types of prey but all of them are wild animals.

Local inhabitants, however, thought those birds predated livestock, and that belief persisted - and was passed down by word of mouth from one generation to the next - due to a lack of scientific studies.

Sheep were raised in that region instead of cattle many years ago, "and probably in a given moment of that history eagles hunted newborn sheep," Sarasola said.

Nowadays, many ranchers in La Pampa see conservation as a serious issue and help preserve the eagle, said Sarasola, a native of the provincial capital of Santa Rosa.

Ranchers have stopped shooting the Chaco eagle thanks to the biologist's awareness-raising efforts, with no such deaths registered since 2013.

The main square of Santa Rosa features a sculpture of a Chaco eagle, while that bird serves as the mascot for a local sporting competition. Sarasola said he also learned that a boy scouts club has taken the name Crowned Eagle.

Chaco eagles, however face two other major threats: drowning in tanks that ranchers use to store water in that vast semi-arid region and electrocution on power lines.

"With the money from the prize, we're working with the regional energy administration to change the location of 90 power pylons that represent 20 percent of the electrocution deaths over a 150-kilometer stretch," said Sarasola, a biologist with Argentina's National Scientific and Technical Research Council.

"It's difficult to convince the power companies," Sarasola said, though adding that it is "quite economical" for those firms to make changes such as switching cables or using safer materials.

"We hope the prize helps raise this awareness that doesn't exist yet. In Spain, a company is hit with a huge fine if an eagle dies," said Sarasola, who earned his doctorate at the Doñana Biological Station in the southern part of that Iberian nation. EFE-EPA



Histórico de noticias
Blind artisan creates intricate works with his hands in southern Mexico

By Jose de Jesus Cortes

Supreme Court justice known as Trump critic treated for cancer

Washington, Aug 23 (efe-epa).- Progressive US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 86, has undergone radiation for a malignant tumor of the pancreas,...

Ex-Democratic lawmaker predicts young Latinos will unseat Trump

Chicago, Aug 23 (efe-epa).- Former Democratic lawmaker Luis Gutierrez predicts that a peaceful revolution of young Hispanic voters, supported by other...

Mexican president: Legal sabotage being mounted against new airport

Mexico City, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Thursday complained that the political opposition has been engaging in...

Brazil's president doubles down on criticism of NGOs operating in Amazon

Brasilia, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- President Jair Bolsonaro said Thursday that while he did not have evidence that non-governmental organizations were behind the...

Buenos Aires street museum once again shines with original intensity

By Carmen Herranz

Mexican human rights commission condemns attacks on journalist

Mexico City, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- Mexico's National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) on Thursday condemned the attacks by "individuals and authorities" on...

Cuba relying on bacteria to end dengue epidemic

Havana, Aug 21 (efe-epa).- The dengue epidemic in several Latin American countries is also affecting - albeit to a lesser degree - Cuba, where experts are...

Trump seeks to halt family migration by extending child detentions

By Laura Barros

Children's chorus revitalizing indigenous language in Panamanian capital

By Maria M. Mur

Brazil's president points finger at NGOs in Amazon fires

Brasilia, Aug 21 (efe-epa).- President Jair Bolsonaro insinuated on Wednesday that non-governmental organizations may be behind the fires in the Amazon, the...

US Space Command to formally begin operations next week

Washington, Aug 20 (efe-epa).- The United States on Aug. 29 will launch its previously announced Space Command, which will initially have just 87 people...

Trump: US in contact with Venezuela's Maduro gov't at highest level

Washington, Aug 20 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump said Tuesday that his administration is in contact with Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro government "at a...

2 former Major League ballplayers accused of drug trafficking in D.R.

Santo Domingo, Aug 20 (efe-epa).- Authorities have dismantled a large drug trafficking ring in the Dominican Republic whose members included former Major...

Son of immigrants travels US delivering crosses for shooting victims

By Jorge Mederos

Stabilizing peso is priority, Argentina's new finance minister says

Buenos Aires, Aug 20 (efe-epa).- New Finance Minister Hernan Lacunza said Tuesday that his main goal would be shoring up the Argentine peso, which has...

Police sharpshooter kills man who hijacked bus in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Aug 20 (efe-epa).- A police sharpshooter killed the man who hijacked a bus and had taken the driver and several passengers hostage on...

Twitter: China has mounted campaign to delegitimize Hong Kong protests

San Francisco, Aug 19 (efe-epa).- Twitter on Monday said that it had uncovered a coordinated effort by 936 accounts originating in China to delegitimize the...

El Salvador woman pardoned after manslaughter conviction for abortion

Ciudad Delgado, El Salvador, Aug 19 (efe-epa).- A court in El Salvador pardoned Evelyn Hernandez, 21, this Monday of the crime of aggravated manslaughter...

Bardem: If 30 pct. of oceans not protected in 2030, damage to be irreversible

By Alvaro Celorio

Colombia, victim of lucrative exotic animal smuggling

By Claudia Polanco Yermanos

US gives China's Huawei another 90-day reprieve on sanctions

Washington, Aug 19 (efe-epa).- Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies on Monday criticized the sanctions imposed by the Donald Trump administration as being...

Trump defends China policy, says US economy is world's best

Washington, Aug 18 (efe-epa).- President Donald Trump on Sunday defended his strategy versus China, on whose goods Washington has imposed heavy tariffs as...

Colombian ex-ministers: Peace is being fired upon from many angles

By Juliana Alejandra Franco and Ovidio Castro