January 30, 2017: Thimphu: A forester in Punakha spotted a rare eagle species, Palla’s Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus leucoryphus) critically injured and lying helpless by the bank of Lakhu river in Punakha. The eagle, with its left wing broken was found lying on the sand, near the river at around 3:25 PM, on Sunday, 29 January 2017.
Karpola, a forester said that the eagle is critically injured. “With its wing fatally wounded, the eagle was lying vulnerable and exposed to other dangers, unable get airborne,” he said. The eagle was carefully collected and taken to Wangdue Forest Divisional Office immediately.
The Divisional Office has a enclosure where rescued wild animals from around the region are tended to. Divisional Forest Office official, Tashi said that the eagle is currently being attended with all possible medical treatments. “We are doing everything to save it,”
The officials sought advice from veterinarian in College of Natural Resources, (CNR) Lobesa. “We fed it with fish shredded into pieces. But unfortunately, the bird is currently in stress, due to which it is not willing to feed,” said Tashi. Hence, they advised feeding with saline solution.At the time of writing this article, the eagle is being taken to Punakha Dzongkhag Veterinary Hospital for further investigation and treatment by a veterinarian. Tashi said that they’re thinking of putting a clamp on its wings, so that broken bones in the wings get to heal.
They suspect that the cause of injury may be fight with other eagles since other species of eagles hunt for fish in the same stretch of river. However, Tashi said that it is difficult to confirm “Going by its injury, it looks like it has been hit with heavy object, possibly a stone.”
Sherab Jamtsho, who studied the rare eagle for his bachelor’s dissertation shared that he observed a pair with a fledgling in the area. “For last one year I have been monitoring this eagle along the Puna-tshangchhu river. As far my observation, only one pair is found in Punakha area.” He added that the injured victim looks like it’s male one. “If it’s true, the survival of chick which I am currently monitoring will be in trouble.”
The eagle is classified as Vulnerable in IUCN Redlist category mainly due to its small population which is on declining trend. It is believed that there are only 2500 individual in its range countries which includes Bhutan. Back home, no survey or census has been carried out, hence its population is not known. However, it is believed to be rare with very rare sighting.
Known by various names such as Band-Tailed Fishing Eagle, Long-Tailed Eagle, Pallas’ Fish Eagle, Pallas’s Fishing Eagle, Pallas’s Eagle, Pallas’s Sea Eagle, Ring-Tailed Fishing Eagle, it is distinctive eagle with a light brown hood over a white face. It has dark brown wings with a darker underneath. The white band underwings are also feature distinctive to the species.
Reported by: Ugyen Tshering, FIMS, FRMD