Circaetus beaudouini


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Circaetus beaudouini
Species Authority: Verreaux & Des Murs, 1862
Common Name(s):
English Beaudouin's Snake-eagle, Beaudouin's Snake Eagle
Taxonomic Notes: Circaetus gallicus (including beaudouini) and C. pectoralis (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) were previously lumped into C. gallicus following Dowsett and Forbes-Watson (1993). Following a review by the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group all three are now considered distinct species based on evidence provided by Clark (1999) and Kemp (1994).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2bcd+3bcd+4bcd;C1+2a(ii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2014-07-24
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Barlow, C., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Guilherme, J., Mirinha, M., Ndang'ang'a, P., Rodrigues, P., Rondeau, G., Thiollay, J. & Thomsett, S.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Bird, J., Butchart, S., Symes, A. & Taylor, J.
This species occupies a large range, within which it occurs at low density and faces a number of threats. It qualifies as Vulnerable owing to its small population, which has declined rapidly.

2012 Vulnerable

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Circaetus beaudouini occupies a relatively narrow band of sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal, Gambia and south Mauritania in the west to southern Sudan and South Sudan, Uganda and Kenya in the east (per S. Thomsett in litt. 2013), and south to Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Central African Republic. The species's population is generally sparsely distributed. For example, in four months of extensive field work in eastern Guinea-Bissau during early 2013, only seven individuals of this species were recorded (one of the records was obtained during a systematic biodiversity assessment and the remaining observations were opportunistic) (P. Rodriguez et al. in litt. 2013). As it occurs at low densities, its global population is not thought to exceed 10,000 individuals (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). It is estimated to have decreased by more than 86-93% over the last 30-35 years, based on comparative roadside counts conducted across its range between Senegal and Niger (Thiollay 2006). In general, however, confusion with wintering Short-toed Snake-eagles C. gallicus may mean that C. beaudouini has previously been under-recorded (F. Dowsett-Lemaire in litt. 2013), thus hampering the estimation of population trends.

Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Côte d'Ivoire; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Mali; Mauritania; Niger; Nigeria; Senegal; South Sudan; Sudan; Uganda
Present - origin uncertain:
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: It occurs at low densities and survey data suggest there are a minimum of 1,000 individuals (J. M. Thiollay in litt. 2006), but in the context of the species's large range the population is better estimated at 2,500-9,999 mature individuals. This equates to 3,750-14,999 individuals, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It inhabits dry savannah but favours more open areas of grassland and even cultivated areas. It is a seasonal migrant, moving between the Sudan zone (and northern Guinea zone) in the dry season and the Sahel (and northern Sudan) zone in the rainy season, and is thinly distributed, territorial and generally solitary.

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): West African raptors have declined owing to a number of threats associated with a three-fold increase in the human population within the region over the past 30 years (Thiollay 2006). Habitat destruction has resulted from agricultural intensification, overgrazing, woodcutting (Thiollay 2006) and major developments (G. Rondeau in litt. 2007), such as urbanisation. Woodcutting for fuelwood, timber and charcoal has caused conversion of woodland into shrubland (Thiollay 2006). Agricultural intensification has led to aerial and ground spraying of insecticides to control insect outbreaks (Thiollay 2006). More specifically, the species is threatened by the spread of cotton fields and the associated use of organochlorine insecticides (G. Rondeau in litt. 2007). Insect swarms were previously an important source of food for raptors directly, or their prey. Livestock are virtually ubiquitous, especially in the Sahel where overgrazing is a major cause of desertification (Thiollay 2006). In addition, hunting has exacerbated the decline.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
The species occurs in a number of protected areas across the region which are of increasing importance for it and other large raptors in West Africa. They currently cover just 0.85% of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Benin.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct further coordinated surveys to establish population estimates and global trends for the species. Establish protection for remaining habitat where grazing and wood-cutting can be kept to a minimum. Investigate potential threats to this species across its range, in particular, the impact of trade on birds in West Africa.

Citation: BirdLife International 2014. Circaetus beaudouini. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 01 September 2015.
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