Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Accipitriformes Accipitridae

Scientific Name: Aquila nipalensis
Species Authority: Hodgson, 1833
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Steppe Eagle
French Aigle des steppes
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2013-11-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Harding, M., Khwaja, N. & Symes, A.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in 10 years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2012 Least Concern (LC)
2011 Least Concern (LC)
2009 Least Concern (LC)
2008 Least Concern (LC)
2004 Least Concern (LC)
2000 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1994 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1988 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Countries occurrence:
Afghanistan; Albania; Armenia (Armenia); Azerbaijan; Bahrain; Bangladesh; Bhutan; Botswana; Bulgaria; China; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Djibouti; Egypt; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Georgia; Greece; India; Iran, Islamic Republic of; Iraq; Israel; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Kuwait; Kyrgyzstan; Lebanon; Malawi; Malaysia; Mongolia; Myanmar; Namibia; Nepal; Oman; Pakistan; Palestinian Territory, Occupied; Qatar; Russian Federation; Rwanda; Saudi Arabia; Singapore; South Africa; South Sudan; Sudan; Swaziland; Syrian Arab Republic; Tajikistan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Thailand; Turkey; Turkmenistan; Uganda; Ukraine; United Arab Emirates; Uzbekistan; Viet Nam; Yemen; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Regionally extinct:
Moldova; Romania
Angola (Angola); Belarus; Burundi; Cameroon; Chad; Croatia; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Hungary; Italy; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Mali; Netherlands; Niger; Nigeria; Norway; Poland; Slovakia; Somalia; Spain; Sweden; Tunisia
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 6580000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Continuing decline in number of locations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Upper elevation limit (metres): 3000
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Even assuming densities as low as 1 pair / 100 km2 across 8 million km2 range there would be 80,000 pairs or 160,000 mature individuals (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001), thus this figure is given here as a preliminary, minimum estimate.

Trend Justification:  The population is declining owing to habitat destruction (especially conversion of steppe into agricultural land), persecution, and collisions with power lines. Locally populations are declining owing to heavy predation of chicks (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001).

For further information about this species, see 22696038_aquila_nipalensis.pdf.
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Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals: 160000 Continuing decline of mature individuals: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
Continuing decline in subpopulations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Behaviour The species is migratory, with birds wintering in south-east Africa and southern Asia (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Migrants leave their breeding grounds between August and October, returning between January and May (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). The species is usually seen singly or in pairs, but small flocks can gather at thermals, roosts and good feeding sites, and flocks of up to 400 regularly form on migration, when birds avoid sea crossings and thus form large concentrations at bottleneck sites (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Snow and Perrins 1998, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). Habitat It inhabits areas of steppe and semi-desert, and is recorded breeding up to 2,300 m in mountainous regions (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Diet It feeds mainly on small mammals on its breeding grounds, with susliks forming the vast majority of its diet in some areas; when wintering it appears to feed mainly on mole rats in East Africa, and termites and Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea predominate in southern Africa (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Breeding site Nests have traditionally been built as large platforms on the ground, although recent habitat alterations seem to have caused a shift to building a few metres higher in bushes or trees (del Hoyo et al. 1994). Management information Artificial structures are now key to this species for nest building in some parts of its range (del Hoyo et al. 1994).
Systems: Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Unknown
Generation Length (years): 16.6
Movement patterns: Full Migrant
Congregatory: Congregatory (and dispersive)

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species has declined in the west of its breeding range, including extirpation from Romania, Moldova and Ukraine, as a result of the conversion of steppes to agricultural land combined with direct persecution (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). It is also adversely affected by power lines and is very highly vulnerable to the impacts of potential wind energy developments (del Hoyo et al. 1994, Strix 2012).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2013. Aquila nipalensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T22696038A40710277. . Downloaded on 10 October 2015.
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