Veterinarian Alexander Blanco
Asociación Civil Fundación Esfera
Education / Communications, Sustainable Land Management, Biodiversity / Nature Conservation
Whitley Awards, 2017
Veterinarian. Wildlife Veterinarian. Dipl. Avian Medicine and Surgery. (Zoo and Wildlife Health Management). Conservation Biology and Wildlife Management Specialist. Conservation Medicine Specialist. National Director Harpy Eagle Conservation Program in Venezuela: My field work on harpies started in 1996. Since 2001 we have monitored 143 harpy nests in Venezuela. Eighty of these are located in the Sierra Imataca region, of which only 24 lie in the protected area of the Imataca Forest Reserve, whilst 56 are located on private land including cattle ranches and small holdings. This region is experiencing a continued increase in human settlement and forest destruction. Through a mixture of community engagement, education and policing we have so far ensured that 69% of nests monitored have remained largely undisturbed and still productive despite the destruction of nearby forest in many cases. Throughout the Imataca region we have established 120 local residents as ‘harpy eagle champions’ who actively care for crucial harpy habitat on their land. In addition we have individually ringed 31 harpy eagles, including 21 with radio or satellite tags, allowing us to build up a long-term picture of harpy eagle ecology including survival, diet and dispersal. My work and training as a vet has allowed me to provide treatment for injured and rescued harpy eagles. So far I have treated fifteen individuals, nine of which I have successfully returned to the wild. Despite financial insecurity and political instability we have continued our work without pause for over twenty years. In 2013 I set up Esfera Foundation in order to establish a legal basis for our project, and as a platform to expand our activities and attract more funding. I have also conducted harpy eagle research and conservation activities in Brasil and Ecuador. Researcher Associated Esfera Foundation.