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The Black Eagles of Roodekrans

by Libby Woodcock

Two week old chick

The urban sprawl is moving at a rapid pace and yet the Black Eagles of Roodekrans seem to carry on unaware to the demolition of their precious habitat. They still soar the skies over the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden and they still thrill many visitors that are lucky enough to get a glimpse of them.

Once again this year they re-furbished their two nest sites on the cliffs of the Witpoortjie Falls and on the 19th and 22sd April 2005 the female laid her eggs with the usual 4 day laying interval in between. The pair settled in to the 45-day incubation period with the female doing approximately 65% of it herself. The males job was to go on long hunting sorties to find the prey to sustain themselves and a excellent job he has done, there seems to be a large availability of guinea fowl this year and his success rate has proved that.

Hatching was due early June and sure enough on the 3rd June 2005 the first chick arrived, how proud the adult pair were. There is something so special to watch the tenderness expressed by these magnificent creatures towards their newly hatched young. The way minuscule pieces of meat are torn from the carcass and offered to this tiny creature, the way she snuggles down to keep the chick warm beneath her breast. Nature is a wonderful thing. With all that is going on within the boundaries of their hunting territory nature still prevails. Unfortunately, the second egg did not hatch and for some maybe it was a blessing, as the poor thing would have had to attest to Cain's aggression within a day of hatching.

The young chick is three weeks old now and growing fast, the pressure is on for the male to provide enough food to feed his young family. He flies great distances everyday to make sure he can deliver the vital sustenance of growth prey. With a little help from the Black Eagle Project it will again be a successful year for these tolerant raptors.