Good news from Béni ”the Survivor”

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Photo: Saverio Gatto

In one of our previous articles we were expressing our worries about Béni, the surviving 2010 nestling which got stuck in the south of the Sinai Peninsula on its way back to Africa after having spent the summer In Turkey and did not manage to finds his way to Africa above the Suez Channel. Our reasons for concern were well grounded, as in 2010 another juvenile, Adél, had lost her life in the same area of the Sinai Peninsula. Béni 1 is the juvenile which amazed everybody last year when, after having succeeded in crossing the Sahara, he broke all records: the fastest speed (92 km/h), the longest distance covered in one single day (511,7 km) and the most kilometres covered in total during migration (13869,17 km until 06.01.2011).

Now we have got some good news from Italian ornithologist Saverio Gatto who informed us that on 20 October Béni was spotted close to the water treatment facility near the town of Sharm el Sheikh, south of the Sinai Peninsula, exactly in the same place where Adél had lost her life last year (http://www.pomarina.ro/pomarina/index.php).

Fortunately, ornithologist Saverio Gatto spotted Béni alive; he told us that he had noticed it “flying alone (although there were other raptor birds in the area, most of them lesser spotted eagles) at approximately 30 meters above ground level. He was coming from the direction of a vast field of eucalyptus (as one can also see on google maps) and after hovering above us three or four times he flew towards the desert.”

We may say in all certainty that the bird Mr. Gatto told us about is Béni based on the plastic ring marked C3 mounted on the bird’s left foot. Mr. Gatto also managed to take a couple of photos in which this ring is very visible. Yet unfortunately the photographs also show us that the satellite transmitter mounted by Milvus Group members on the bird’s back and the metal ring from its right foot, market H001997 are both missing. Mr. Gatto also told us that “as you may very well see from the enclosed photographs, both the gps transmitter and the metal ring on its right foot were missing.”

The most plausible explanation for the missing satellite transmitter and right foot ring is that the bird was captured by someone who untied both the device and the ring. Fortunately the person who did this left the bird alive, unlike Lisa who was killed for the “adornments” which it wore (http://pomarina.ro/EN/migration-blog/120-acvil-ucis-de-superstiii”).

After these positive data we may only hope that Béni is still alive somewhere in the South of Africa and that in spring he will be back to the places where he was born to start the cycle of an adult Lesser Spotted Eagle: finding a partner, laying eggs and raising its offspring.

Each individual Aquila pomarina still alive is an extra chance for the survival of this species which is declining in all its territories from the north of the European continent to Turkey.

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