This bird is very common and, despite it eats fish and thus could be seen as a challenger for some humans that don’t know yet that they are fruit-eating primates, it doesn’t seem threatened. Its beauty and its call, so representative of Africa, and its fidelity in the couple that impress even the less romantic people, made this bird a flag often respected.
This large bird flies very well and, although it is mainly sedentary, it can easily move from a place to another. Young birds can travel years before reaching their adult stage and finally settling according to availability of territory, sometimes far from the place where they born. Thus, there is a good genetic mix and the species doesn’t show any geographical variations; it is therefore logically considered monotypic. It is closely related to other fish eagles, White-bellied Fish Eagle in Asia and Australia, Madagascar Fish Eagle (critically endangered!) and Sanford’s Fish Eagle in the Solomon Islands. However, those three species are mainly living on the seashore, often fishing at sea while our African Bird lives mainly in fresh waters.
Future of the species and where to see?
If this species is not threatened today, in the middle term, if the fishes disappear (and, unfortunately, it is not impossible), it will disappear as well. We have then to recall it again: Human is a fruit-eating animal and never need animal proteins! Animal protein production (animal agriculture) is the main reason for which biodiversity is crashing!
It is easy to see that beautiful bird. Almost all countries South of the Sahara hold good population away from Somalia and Djibouti. You have to know that some touristic organizations in Kenya and may be elsewhere organise artificial feeding of fish eagles to allow tourists to take perfect photos when they fish; those strategies disturb the ecosystem, disturb the behaviour of the bird, not even talking about the victim (the fish!), so we insist that you don’t participate to those fake activities when you are going to Africa. Learn to appreciate the nature, wild and free. Don’t let yourself follow those people that want to control her, dominate her and put her in the box!
[Species #19 of the Holistic Encyclopedia of Birds project]
All photos and text are © Valéry Schollaert and Marinella Mejia