Avian experts in Dubai have treated and rehabilitated an endangered eagle which was found entangled in nets.
The Greater Spotted Eagle was found in the desert a month ago by an Emirati boy who brought the bird to the Dubai Falcon Hospital for help.
Vets treated wounds to the bird’s leg, before tagging and releasing it last week in a conservation area.
A satellite tracker shows the male is healthy and flying around with another spotted eagle he met soon after his release.
“The boy and his family [who found it] came and donated it to the hospital one month ago,” said Dr Panos Azmanis, a falcon veterinarian at Dubai Falcon Hospital.
“It was entangled in the net and the eagle could not fly and there was a wound on the leg. The young boy wants to become a falconer. He understood he could not start falconry with this big eagle so he brought the bird to us.
“We promised to release the eagle and we gave him as a present, a small captive-bred falcon, to start learning falconry.”
Vets performed a number of tests, including X-rays and blood tests, checking for parasites, and other procedures, including an endoscopy.
Once the bird was nursed back to health, they released it in the Marmoon Desert Conservation area, near Al Qudra Lakes, tagging it first with a satellite tracker to monitor its progress.
The tracker was paid for by the Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Finance Minister, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid and the Dubai Falcon Hospital’s managing director, Humaid Al Muhairi, said Dr Azmanis.
“Rashid is only one of the handful eagles that have been satellite tracked in the Arabian Gulf and the data will make a significant impact to the scientific community to protect the species,” said Mr Azmanis.
The bird is still in the area, which is a known habitat for the species, and is in good health, he added.
“We are tracking him daily and download data twice a day. We get more than 250 locations and signals per day so we can know exactly where he is and what he is doing,” said Mr Azmanis.
“After the release in the wild, another greater spotted eagle came to sit with him. The next day they were exploring the area together. We expect to start his migration outside UAE in March.”
Every autumn, the birds of prey migrate from their breeding ground in southern Russia and northern Kazakhstan to Europe, North Africa, the Gulf, and sometimes beyond, to north east Africa.
Research by Environment Agency Abu Dhabi suggests two separate populations may visit the UAE each year.
The department has been monitoring six greater spotted eagles to see where they go when they leave the UAE.
The data captured shows once the birds reach the Caspian Sea, they split into two directions.
One group veers to the east, while the other moves around the west coast.
One of the birds being tracked by EAD, known as 296, was tagged in late 2015, providing scientists with more than four and a half years of data.
Since then it has travelled 100,000km, visiting 10 countries.
Understanding migratory routes and resting sites is critical to the survival of the species. There are believed to be fewer than 10,000 mature individuals left across the world. The birds are classed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.