Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus


Justification of Red List category
This species is listed as Endangered because it is suspected to have undergone very rapid declines during the past three generations (46 years) owing to deliberate and incidental poisoning, pesticides and nest disturbance; threats that are likely to continue this trend into the future.

Population justification
The population is suspected to number in the tens of thousands (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001).

Trend justification
There have been significant population declines across much of this species's range owing to habitat loss and incidental poisoning/pollution, including Botswana (S. Tyler in litt. 2009; Garbett et al., 2018), Cameroon (Buij and Croes 2014; Thiollay, 2001; R. Buij, unpublished data), Côte d'Ivoire (del Hoyo et al. 1994), Kenya (N. Baker in litt. 2005; Ogada 2009; Ogada et al., 2020 in prep), Namibia (del Hoyo et al. 1994), Nigeria (an estimated decline of at least 50 % in 30 years, now probably only found in Yankari Gam Reserve where it used to be common but only two birds were seen in April and June 2016) (P. Hall in litt. 2005, 2009, 2016, 2020; O. J. Daniel in litt. 2009), Somalia (A. Ajama in litt. 2009), South Africa (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001, S. Thomsett in litt. 2005), where the reporting rates between SABAP1 (1987-1992) and SAPAP2 (2007-2020) reduced by 59% (P. Shaw, A. Amar and D. Ogada in litt. 2020), and densities within the Kruger National Park have declined (C. Murn in litt. 2020), Sudan (del Hoyo et al. 1994), Zambia (P. Leonard in litt. 2005), and Zimbabwe (del Hoyo et al. 1994). The overall rate of decline is difficult to quantify but is believed to have been rapid over the past three generations (46 years), placed here in the 50-79% band.

Distribution and population

Terathopius ecaudatus has an extensive range across much of sub-Saharan Africa (from southern Mauritania, Senegal, southern Mali and Guinea east to southern Sudan, northern South Sudan, Ethiopia, west Somalia and south to Namibia, Botswana and northern and north-eastern South Africa). It also occurs in south-west Arabia (south-west Saudi Arabia and Yemen). Although there have been significant population declines or range contractions suspected in many regions, evidence suggests that it remains widespread and common in Tanzania (N. Baker in litt. 2020; C. Kendall in litt. 2020), and in Malawi (S. Chihana in litt. 2020). 


It inhabits open country, including grasslands, savanna and subdesert thornbush from sea level to 4,500 m but generally below 3,000 m (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). It is generally considered resident but some adults as well as immatures are nomadic (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). It takes both live and dead food, mostly mammals and birds but also some reptiles, carrion, insects and occasionally birds' eggs and crabs, foraging over a huge range (55-200 km2) (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001). The nest is built in the canopy of a large tree, and breeding is chiefly September-May in West Africa, throughout the year in East Africa and December-August in southern Africa (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001).


Putative reasons for declines vary, but include poisoned baits, pesticides, trapping for international trade, nest disturbance from spreading human settlements, and increased intensification and degradation of agricultural land (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001, N. Baker in litt. 2005, S. Thomsett in litt. 2005). The major cause of the decline seems to be almost entirely poisoning by a few large-scale commercial farmers, but poisoning is also a problem in tribal small-stock farming communities.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No large scale actions underway but possible that protected in Yemen as an "endangered species" (P. Vercammen  in litt. 2006). It is listed under Appendix II of CITES.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Implement education and awareness campaigns across its range to reduce the use of poisoned baits. Carry out regular population monitoring across its range.


55-70 cm. Mid-sized, oddly-proportioned eagle, with very long pointed wings, 'tailless' appearance and bushy head. Wings held in a deep 'V' and flight fast with distinctive side to side tilting action. Males generally black but with chestnut from mantle to tail, brownish-grey shoulders, white underwing linings and bare red face and legs. Females have more extensive white underwings and grey secondaries. Juveniles are all brown with blue-grey cere, face and legs and longer tail. Similar spp Jackal and Augur Buzzards share a combination of black, white and chestnut plumage but shape of Bateleur renders it unmistakeable.


Text account compilers
Clark, J.

Ajama, A., Amar, A., Baker, N., Brewster, C., Brown, C., Buechley, E., Butchart, S., Chihana, S., Cordeiro, N., Daniel, O., Dowsett, R.J., Dowsett-Lemaire, F., Ekstrom, J., Hall, P., Harding, M., Kendall, C., Kitaba, K., Leonard, P., Martin, R., Murn, C., Ogada, D., Pilgrim, J., Shaw, P., Symes, A., Thomsett, S., Tyler, S., Vercammen, P., Westrip, J.R.S. & Wolstencroft, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Terathopius ecaudatus. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/bateleur-terathopius-ecaudatus on 04/12/2023.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 04/12/2023.