Black-chested Snake-eagle Circaetus pectoralis


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (extent of occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend is suspected to be stable, therefore it does not approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The species is described as scarce in some areas and common in others, and considering its wide range in eastern and southern Africa total numbers may exceed five figures (Ferguson-Lees and Christie 2001).

Trend justification
There is very little data on population size or trends for this species, however road surveys carried out in northern Botswana during 1991-1995 and 2015-2016 found a small but significant increase in the population (Garbett et al. 2018). Preliminary comparisons of results from the first and second South African Bird Atlas Project suggest that the range of the species may be shifting in this region (Underhill & Brooks 2014). In the absence of data from other parts of its range, and with no known significant threats, the population is suspected to be stable.

Distribution and population

This species has a large range, which extends from east Sudan and Ethiopia south to South Africa.


The species inhabits open areas of savannah and steppe, deserts, and clearings in woodland (Thiollay 1994).


The species is not known to be affected by pesticides (Kemp et al. 2015). However it has been recorded drowning in reservoirs on farmland in South Africa (Anderson et al. 1999). Other recorded causes of death include shooting, electrocution and collision with overhead powerlines (Oatley et al. 1998, cited in Global Raptor Information Network 2021).

Conservation actions

Conservation actions underway
The species is listed on CITES Appendix II, CMS Appendix II and Raptors MoU Category 3.


Text account compilers
Haskell, L.

Ashpole, J, Temple, H. & Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Circaetus pectoralis. Downloaded from on 01/12/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 01/12/2022.