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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

White bellied sea eagle flies free

Hadi the white bellied sea eagle following confiscationIAR has returned a white bellied sea eagle to the wild in Indonesia 18 months after the bird was confiscated from fishermen.

The eagle, known as Hadi, was confiscated in July 2007 and brought to the IAR Raptor Rehabilitation Centre. He was still a baby and in need of intensive care for the first weeks after his arrival. He was in very poor condition - dehydrated and covered with lice. His former owner had also taken to shampooing Hadi, which had stripped his feathers of their natural oily protection. It was some weeks before the bird’s physical condition stablilised and gradually he became stronger and more confident.

By January 2008 Hadi was ready to learn more survival skills in his natural habitat. He was relocated to Peteloran island at the northern end of the National Park. This small island covers three hectares of forest and white beach where hawksbill turtles come to lay their eggs in February. The name pulau peteloran means egg-laying island. It is located within a zone where fishing is prohibited and there is hardly any human activity in the area. The IAR team also took the chance to start clearing the beach of dead wood and logs which make it difficult for the turtles to come up the beach and lay their eggs.

However the main reason why this remote location was chosen was because Hadi was born on the neighbouring island: the fisherman who had taken him from the nest had told the forestry officer who confiscated Hadi exactly where he had found the bird.

It was a risk: if the parents didn’t accept Hadi in the area they might attack him. But it was deemed to be a risk worth taking. The team was ready with swimming vests and a canoe in case anything went wrong when the eagles met.

The team built a pre-release cage for Hadi for the first days after his arrival. After only two days in the cage Hadi was released at sunrise. For the next two days Hadi stayed around the island and spent the time playing more than hunting. On the first day after his release the male eagle from the neighbouring island flew over. He showed off to Hadi and it looked as though he might attack him but after a fine display of circling and even bumping against the young bird, the male left. The next day, the adult male (which is probably Hadi’s father) returned to the island. He circled around and then left once again.

And then, three days after release, both parents flew over to Peteloran island, and the IAR team was thrilled to see Hadi join them, circling in the sky for nearly ten minutes (January 12).Then he flew away with his parents to the neighbouring island. IAR remains on the look out in the hope of spotting Hadi again and monitoring his progress.