Los Merinos given the birdie!

LAST UPDATED: 16 Dec, 2007 @ 08:15
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According to report, up to five per cent of the world’s population of the extremely endangered Bonelli’s Eagle lives in controversial Ronda golf development

MORE than 100 rare and endangered birds are under threat from the Los Merinos golf development.

At least 17 of these are on the critical list, according to a new in-depth report by wildlife group SEO/Birdlife.

As well as a pair of Imperial Eagles and a pair of Golden Eagles, there are three pairs of Booted Eagles, three pairs of Eagle Owl and two pairs of Short-toed Eagle living within the 1,000-hectare double golf course development with 800 houses and three luxury hotels.

More crucially however, the report insists that there are two pairs of Bonelli’s Eagle nesting in the area, with two more frequently passing over.

One of the most endangered in the world – with 44 per cent of its population of 1,000 pairs living in Andalucia – the eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus) has Grade One protection.

“It is extraordinarily endangered at a world level,” a spokesman told the Olive Press. “According to our studies this development will directly affect two pairs of Bonelli’s nesting there, and at least two more pairs who use the area to feed and exercise.

“On top of this, the place is very important for the movement and growth of the offspring of the existing pairs.”

According to celebrated British bird specialist Peter Jones, the Bonelli’s Eagle is “extremely rare” and has one of its highest densities of breeding pairs in the Los Merinos area.

He adds that the Golden Eagle is also “scarce and under threat” while the Imperial Eagle is “very rare and endangered.”

The report added that the “irreversible transformation” of the zone would directly destroy the equilibrium of the area and destroy the birds’ habitats.

The existence of the Bonelli’s Eagle has already forced the courts in Jaen to order the demolition of a house built close to a nest.

In the ruling at Jaen’s court number two, Judge Jose Maria Canada Cle confirmed in 2006 that the house “disturbed a species with a low tolerance to the precence of humans and that it deserved special protection for the grave risk to a species in danger.”

Of the 1,000 pairs left in the world, 800 live in Spain, with half of those living in Andalucia.

The international wildlife group insists that the area of Los Merinos, which is protected as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, is ideal for the bird.

After in-depth studies, the group found that an incredible 116 species are in danger if construction work is allowed to continue at the controversial development.

The group lists the following rare birds in addition to the eagles: Red-necked Nightjar: At least six pairs, Thekla Lark: At least 15 pairs, Woodlark: 20 pairs, Black-eared Wheatear, 14 pairs, Black Wheatear, one pair, Rock Thrush, three pairs, Blue Rock Thrush, five pairs, Molodious Warbler, 20 pairs, Sub-alpine Warbler, 23 pairs, Spectacled warbler, six pairs, Chough, 12 pairs and Rock sparrow, 40 pairs.

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