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The Wedge-tailed Eagle, or Wailitj in the Aboriginal Noongar language, is the largest bird of prey in Australia and one of the


largest and most beatiful eagles in the world.


This project is about using satellite-trackers to research the movements and survival of juvenile Wedge-tailed Eagles.


In late 2015 I raised Pozible funds to buy 3 satellite-transmitters that were placed on young Wedge-tails born in the Perth Hills in October 2016, the first time this work had been conducted in this part of Australia.


So why do I need to sat-tag more eagles?


The accuracy of our knowledge depends on following the stories of more than just a few birds. That is why I need to carry out another year of sat-tagging young eagles in 2017 to increase the sample size, thereby increasing our level of understanding of how and where these birds travel to, what threats they face, and how we as custodians of the land can ensure they soar well into the future.


Why is the research important?


Nearly half of the world’s 75 species of eagle are threatened, being listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as either Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable to extinction. In nearly all cases the causes are human activities, either through direct impacts to populations through persecution, or indirectly though habitat loss and environmental

degradation.



Despite being subject to a period of extensive persecution for over a century, when hundreds of thousands of eagles were culled, the Wedge-tail is currently listed as Least Concern. However, this status is based on information collected using methods designed for small songbirds, and it does not consider the complex population structure of a large raptor - that is, eagles take many years to become mature enough to breed, and need large areas of land about which to move and find resources.


We actually know very little about how the eagle population uses the current Australian landscape.


Currently we have limited information about the movements and survival of juvenile Wedge-tails, especially during modern times which have seen an increase in human activity in arid Australia, resulting in drastic changes to their habitat. But we do know that many birds are killed by vehicles, and more recently, the threat of increasingly used drones is encroaching on their habitat in the sky. 


Kala, the young eagle in this campaign's video, fledged in December 2016, has since left his home, and is now wandering around the vast interior... but he is vulnerable to a range of threats. Two other Wedge-tails that were sat-tagged died well before turning 1 year old, placing emphasis on just how precious the life of every young eagle is. One of these birds, Walyunga, was killed after colliding with an aircraft (possibly attacking a drone) that chopped off multiple flight feathers, highlighting the significance of such modern threats.



The last population-scale study on this species was conducted during the 1960s and 1970s by the CSIRO Division of Wildlife Research in Western Australia. This study’s conclusion emphasised the need to: 1) continue research as environmental changes occur, and 2) conduct long-term population studies. But no such broad-scale research has been conducted.


It is usually Threatened species that are placed on top of the research priority list, but increasing our understanding of the ecological requirements of other species


while they are still common and relatively easy to study


is just as important, so factors which may lead to declines can be identified or predicted and given early management attention. Researching such species is also important because knowledge of their biology and ecology is likely to be applicable to closely related species or ecological equivalents that are rare and thus harder to study, so the research use is multifaceted.


If we leave it 'til they're Endangered, it could be too late.


Top-order or apex predators like eagles are vital for keeping the ecosystems that other wildlife live in healthy. They control pest animals such as feral cats, feral pigs and rabbits, pick off sick and injured animals and encourage a high level of fitness in populations of native animals, and reduce disease risk by eating carrion. It is so important that we understand and look after them!




There are also huge mental health benefits to humans. Knowing we share our space with a wide range of unique wildlife, espeically that in landscapes we can interact with and take ownership of, is a vital part of living a fit and healthy life! Indigenous Australians have known this for thousands of years, and in many places, Wedge-tailed Eagles are considered important totem animals that connect people to the land. Having the ability to understand, enage with and be inspired by such animals through research such as this eagle-tracking project gives us even more motivation protect our unique country.


How The Funds Will Be Used


GPS/Satellite Transmitters cost $5000 each...


... but the information they provide us with is amazing! Each unit records an hourly GPS fix 15 times a day, giving us an accurate 'movement path' of the dispersal journey a juvenile eagle is making.


I also need to make specially designed Teflon harnesses used to attach tracking devices to eagles using a 'backpack' design'. For these I need 10 metres of Teflon, which costs $15 per metre for delivery to Australia.


That's it!


Just a few small but sophisticated items will allow this project to go ahead!


BUT...


Reachinig my target will only fund four transmitters, and I need to buy at least FIVE to make a rigorous sample size for the research. There are also ongoing costs to download GPS locations data, and other smaller expenses to cover thing such as fuel and accommodation. With this in mind, I have set the following targets for this campaign:


1. Exceed $10 000

This will fund 2 transmitters and see us reach the half-way mark!


2. Obtain $20 150

Fund 4 transmitters and gather important information about a minimum sample of eagles.


3. Reach $25 150

This is my ideal target! It will fund 5 transmitters and obtain my prefered sample of 5 juvenile eagles for 2017.


4. Exceed $30 000

Now we are talking! This will fund 5 transmitters and use additional costs to pay for ongoing costs of data for almost 2 years!


5. Reach $50 000

Now I'm dreaming!! This will cover the costs of 8 transmitters and several years' data for each, plus provide additional logistic support that I am currently self-funding. If I reach this amount, this time I WILL EAT MY HAT, film it, and post the video online!!

The Challenges

Finding eagle nests and climbing trees to catch young predators with giant talons...


might sound like a crazy task! But this is something I've spent much of my life working towards! Having researched Wedge-tailed Eagle ecology in WA for over 15 years and spent more than a decade engaging with the community to communicate science and conduct public education programs, I have vast experience in all aspects of this field. During the pilot study I began in 2013, I captured and fitted with GPS transmitters 4 eagles in outback Australia, which gave me the opportunity to test the tracking gear could be fitted to the eagles safely, that the equipment worked, and that the information gathered was useful. I then went to Scotland in 2014 and 2016 to volunteer with the Scottish Raptor Study Group, where I undertook more training in best practice methods of capturing and tracking large eagles from world-class experts in the field of raptor research.


The most challenging aspect of this project will be managing the human-side of the research, which involves coordinating volunteers and small 'teams' of people to assist me in the field, especially with the potential addition of crowdfunding supporters. However, I am very much a 'people person', really enjoy meeting new people and exciting them about eagle research, so am willing to take everything this project entails in my stride!


Successful
on 14th Sep 2017 at 1:23am. The payment portal is closed now.
AU$20 +Personal LetterA personal, signed letter from Simon thanking you for your pledge. This will include an iNSiGHT Ornithology logo, a photo of beautiful Wedge-tailed Eagle, and be flown to you in PDF format directly via email. You may wish to print and frame it, or use it to light the pot belly stove!!
40 Chosen | Unlimited AvailableEst. delivery is September 2017
AU$30 +Website CreditHave your name appear on a special supporter's acknowledgement page on the Wedge-tailed Eagle Tracking website.
51 Chosen | Unlimited AvailableEst. delivery is June 2017
AU$35 +'Lost Sheep' PrintReceive a limited edition, signed print of the 'Lost Sheep' card by cartoonist and illustrator Andrew McDonough, who kindly jumped in and donated this reward to help our beautiful eagles!
5 Chosen | 45 AvailableEst. delivery is October 2017
AU$40 +Art CollageReceive a beautiful, unique gift-card featuring an 'egg-to-adult' sequence depicting a Wedge-tailed Eagle's life-cycle, the amazing hand-drawn artwork of Perth Hills local Eia Ballard, who is only 14 years old. Eia came up with this amazing piece in a fundraising gesture to help out my eagle research - how amazing are our young people!?!
25 Chosen | 125 AvailableEst. delivery is October 2017
AU$50 +Eagle PostcardReceive a limited edition, signed #WhereWedgiesDare2017 post-card image of Kala, the beautiful Wedge-tail featured in the campaign video. Stick it on your fridge or glue it to the cat flap to keep out unwanted pets!!
49 Chosen | 51 AvailableEst. delivery is October 2017
AU$95 +Signed DVDWhere Do Eagles Dare? DVDs have been extremely popular and I'm SUPER excited about signing a limited edition #WhereWedgiesDare2017 edition just for supporters! View a trailer of this film to whet your appetite here: http://tinyurl.com/n2ntqf9
19 Chosen | 181 AvailableEst. delivery is October 2017
AU$150 +Eagle PosterReceive a limited edition, signed poster featuring photographs showing the amazing transformation Wedge-tailed Eagles undergo from tiny hatchling to bold, powerful young predator. Featuring Kala, the unique, Perth-born eagle satellite-tagged in 2016. 3 design option available.
11 Chosen | 19 AvailableEst. delivery is November 2017
AU$400 +All GoneLunch DateBring a friend and join Simon for a group lunch outing at the Rose and Crown Hotel, Guildford, to hear about his eagle research stories first hand. Topics of conversation are not just limited to birds, so you might want to chew the fat over tall person jokes, Iron Maiden, drums, woodwork, gardening, or Toyota Troop-carrier upgrades, to name a few! (Note: 1 outing only, maximum of 2 people/pledge, capped at 12 people total. Simon will shout a round but lunch is paid for by participants!).
6 Chosen | 0 AvailableEst. delivery is February 2018
AU$500 +Eagle Presentation - School$500 will pay for six months of satellite tracking data. Donate this amount and Simon will come and visit your school and give a 1-hour presentation all about Wedge-tailed Eagle ecology. This includes glimpses at rare footage of these birds' behaviour, stories about previously satellite-tracked birds, and poster and DVD signing! Note - for schools in the greater Perth region only.
3 Chosen | 7 AvailableEst. delivery is June 2018
AU$900 +Eagle Presentation - Corporate$900 will pay for one year of satellite tracking data. Donate this amount and Simon will come and visit your workplace or community group and give a 1-hour presentation all about Wedge-tailed Eagle ecology. This includes glimpses at rare footage of these birds' behaviour, and a behind the scenes look at the movements of previously satellite-tracked birds. Workplaces outside the greater Perth region, within 200 km of Perth, can add a Fuel Voucher option to cover extra travel costs
2 Chosen | 8 AvailableEst. delivery is June 2018
AU$1000 +Eagle Banding ExperienceGrab a friend, put in $500 each, and accompany Simon on a UNIQUE Perth Hills, half-day bush adventure! Visit a Wedge-tailed Eagle eyrie and assist with banding/ringing an eaglet as part of Simon's research on their movements and survival. There's nothing quite like the feeling of seeing these amazing birds up close!
2 Chosen | 3 AvailableEst. delivery is November 2017
AU$1900 +Eagling AdventureEver wanted to visit a Wedge-tailed Eagle nest and see these magnificent birds in their natural habitat? Accompany Simon on a personal, guided bush-walk for a full day of Wedge-tailed Eagle spotting in Perth region of Western Australia. Get all the first-hand knowledge from someone who knows their biology backwards, and learn tips on how to find eagles near your home. Lunch provided. Note - you must get to Perth and be reasonably fit!!
0 Chosen | 5 AvailableEst. delivery is October 2017
AU$5000 +Eagle Sat-tagging Experience$5K will pay for one GPS/Satellite transmitter & allow us to track a juvenile eagle for several years. This reward allows you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to accompany Simon & a couple of other people who will visit an eagle nest, watch Simon climb and catch a juvenile Wedge-tailed Eagle, and attach a satellite-transmitter. You can then follow its movements online via the eagle tracking website, and tell your friends about how you met this bird in real life!!
0 Chosen | 3 AvailableEst. delivery is November 2017