Why are layouts in favour of the Bonelliís eagleís prey species necessary?

The diet of the Bonelli’s eagle is pretty well known throughout Western Europe, where it feeds mainly on wild rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa), along with wood pigeons (Columba palumbus), domestic pigeons (Columba livia) or even corvids (crow, ravens, magpies, etc.).

The scarcity of the Bonelli’s eagle’s main preys is due to their shrinking habitat, their direct destruction or yet again to viral diseases (myxomatosis, VHD), among other things. This is how the wild rabbit endend up being a “near-endangered species” on the IUCN’s French red list. In contrast, opportunistic species such as feral pigeons were favoured.

Nevertheless, the Bonelli’s eagle’s preys of choice (rabbit and partridges) have a direct impact on its productivity, its chicks’ physical state and the survival of the adults. Along the Lussan garrigues, this may become one of the obstacles to confining new couples to high potential sites. Moreover, this might explain the low productivity with the territory: 1, compared to 1.09 on a national scale.

What shall we do in favour of the Bonelliís eagleís prey species?

  • In order to sustain the wild rabbit populations, four garenne networks shall be made. Each network shall include one main warren, comprising a structure made out of soil and dry stone, along with satellite warrens made out of stumps topsoil. In addition, restocking procedures shall be carried out.
    A significant amount of efforts on meeting, sharing and interacting shall formerly be made along with the municipalities, land owners and users in order to define the implementation sites and the layouts’ maintenance terms.
  • A lower consumption of the Bonelli’s eagle’s preys of choice may be leveled out by the consumption of other preys, provided that these preys are plentiful enough. The creation or rehabilitation of three pigeonholes would allow to provide an additional food sources to the birds of prey.

    Because of this measure’s innovative aspect, a preliminary study shall be made in order to define the ecological prerequisites for the implementation, the terms for the pigeonholes’ economic valorisation and perpetuation.

The project throughout time

  1. Step 01 - From Winter 2022 to Spring 2023

    Preliminary study and defining sites of establishment

  2. Step 02 - 2023

    Building warrens

  3. Step 03 - 2024

    Building dovecotes