HELICON - Conservation of imperial eagles by managing human-eagle conflicts in Hungary

LIFE10 NAT/HU/000019

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Márton HORVATH
Email: horvath.marton@mme.hu

Project description:


The eastern imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca) is a globally threatened Eurasian bird species, with a world population of only a few thousand breeding pairs. Hungary is home to the largest population in the EU – in 2010, 62% of the species were found in the country including 117 nesting pairs. Since the 1980’s, the population is slowly increasing in Hungary, but this small population is still vulnerable and far from stable due to the limited number and quality of available habitats.

The favourable conservation status of the imperial eagle in Hungary is seriously threatened by the exponential increase in deliberate killings (poisoning began in 2005, and shooting is also a problem). A total of 54 imperial eagles are believed to have been killed in the past few years (23.1% of the national and 14.2% of the EU breeding population in 2010). Besides imperial eagles, 932 other protected birds of 20 different species were found to have been poisoned in Hungary in the past ten years (on average less than 15% of all poison deaths are reported). Such killings threaten to reverse the positive population trend of the imperial eagle in Hungary and in neighbouring countries.


The main objective of the project is to maintain the increasing population trend of the eastern imperial eagle in Hungary by significantly reducing non-natural mortality rates.

The project specifically aims to:

  • Reduce the adverse effects of deliberate killings (for the imperial eagle) by setting up a veterinary system and best-practice protocol, satellite tracking, nest guarding at key Natura 2000 sites (SPAs), the provision of safe feeding places and the construction of artificial nests;
  • Increase the chance of detecting illegal activities and imposing criminal sentences. The project will conduct field surveys, set up a hot-line, create a bird-crime database, establish a protocol for investigating incidents, set up an anti-bird-crime action group, and educate stakeholders;
  • Increase stakeholder awareness about the overestimated impact of raptor species on game populations and about alternative eagle-friendly game management methods;
  • Increase public awareness about the importance of imperial eagle conservation and about the possible consequences of persecution incidents through the drawing up and implementation of a communication plan, the establishment of information events/points, the creation of a visitor centre and educational trail, the use of online cameras, and the construction of notice boards. These measures will be applied in the whole territory of Hungary and in selected SPAs.
  • Expected results:

  • The Hungarian breeding population of eastern imperial eagles should increase by more 20% during the project period and reach more than 140 breeding pairs by 2016;
  • The number of deaths due to persecution should decrease and the annual number of affected birds should be less than five a year on average by the last years of the project;
  • The annual mortality rate of breeding imperial eagles should be less than 20% by the end of the project;
  • The average breeding success of imperial eagles should be above one fledgling per breeding pair during the project period;
  • Rehabilitation of injured specimens should have a greater than 30% success rate during the project period (including five or more rehabilitated birds);
  • Serious sentences should be imposed and advertised following bird-crime investigations carried out during the project;
  • The project should appear in more than one thousand national media reports (with the public reached on more than 10 million occasions). More than two million people should visit the project exhibitions in Hungarian Zoos; more than a million people should visit the project website; the project films should be seen by more than two million people; and the Imperial Eagle Visitor Centre and education trail should be visited by more than 2 500 people.



Environmental issues addressed:


Species - Birds


endangered species‚  protected area‚  conflicting use

Target species

 Aquila heliaca     

Natura 2000 sites

SPA HUBN10002 Borsodi-sík
SPA HUBN10003 Bükk-hegység és peremterületei
SPA HUBN10004 Hevesi-sík
SPA HUBN10006 Mátra
SPA HUBN10007 Zempléni-hegység a Szerencsi-dombsággal és a Hernád-völggyel
SPA HUDI10003 Gerecse
SPA HUDI10004 Jászkarajenői puszták
SCI HUDI30001 Vértes
SPA HUFH10001 Fertő tó
SPA HUFH10004 Mosoni-sík
SCI HUFH30005 Hanság
SPA HUHN10002 Hortobágy
SPA HUHN10003 Bihar
SPA HUHN10004 Közép-Tisza
SPA HUHN10005 Jászság
SPA HUKM10001 Kígyósi-puszta
SPA HUKM10003 Dévaványai-sík
SPA HUKM10004 Hódmezővásárhely környéki és csanádi-háti puszták
SPA HUKM10005 Cserebökényi-puszták
SPA HUKN10007 Alsó-Tisza-völgy
SCI HUAN20004 Hernád-völgy és Sajóládi-erdő
SCI HUAN20006 Sajó-völgy
SCI HUBN20001 Bükk-fennsík és a Lök-völgy
SCI HUBN20009 Tard környéki erdőssztyepp
SCI HUBN20010 Szomolyai Kaptár-rét
SCI HUBN20017 Borsodbótai Kotyindó-tető
SCI HUBN20018 Upponyi-szoros
SCI HUBN20025 Nagybarcai Liget-hegy és sajóvelezdi Égett-hegy
SCI HUBN20034 Borsodi-Mezőség
SCI HUBN20035 Poroszlói szikesek
SCI HUBN20037 Nagy-Hanyi
SCI HUBN20039 Pusztafogacs
SCI HUBN20041 Pélyi szikesek
SCI HUBN20044 Recski Hegyes-hegy
SCI HUBN20047 Mátra északi letörése
SCI HUBN20051 Nyugat-Mátra
SCI HUBN20068 Sajómercsei Körtvélyes-dűlő
SCI HUBN20073 Bodrogszegi Várhegy
SCI HUBN20074 Tállyai Patócs-hegy - Sátor-hegy
SCI HUBN20077 Erdőbényei - olaszliszkai magyar nőszirmos sztyepprétek
SCI HUBN20082 Felsőregmeci Ronyva
SCI HUBN20084 Központi-Zempléni-hegység
SCI HUBN20085 Északi-Zempléni-hegység
SCI HUBN20087 Baskói rétek
SCI HUBN20090 Komlóskai Mogyorós-tető és Zsidó-rét
SCI HUBN20092 Telkibányai Király-hegy
SCI HUBN20093 Bózsvai Temető alja
SCI HUDI20015 Déli-Gerecse
SCI HUDI20030 Központi-Gerecse
SCI HUHN20003 Tisza-tó
SCI HUHN20070 Darvasi Csiff-puszta
SCI HUHN20076 Borsóhalmi-legelő
SCI HUHN20093 Kaba-földesi gyepek
SCI HUHN20098 Dél-ásványi gyepek
SCI HUHN20100 Gatály
SCI HUHN20103 Berekböszörmény - körmösdpusztai legelők
SCI HUHN20105 Csökmői gyepek
SCI HUKM20003 T-erdő
SCI HUKM20004 Száraz-ér
SCI HUKM20010 Gyula-szabadkígyósi gyepek
SCI HUKM20015 Hortobágy-Berettyó
SCI HUKM20019 Dél-Bihari szikesek
SCI HUKM20027 Cserebökény
SCI HUKM20028 Tőkei gyepek
SCI HUKM20030 Lapistó-Fertő
SCI HUKM20031 Kurca
SCI HUDI20020 Gerecse
SCI HUFH20002 Fertő tó
SCI HUHN20002 Hortobágy
SCI HUHN20015 Közép-Tisza



Coordinator MME BirdLife Hungary
Type of organisation NGO-Foundation
Description MME BirdLife Hungary (Hungarian Ornithological and Nature Conservation Society) is a private, non-commercial body, founded in 1974 to protect birds and their natural environment. Since then, its activities have expanded from surveys to active conservation work and nature conservation lobbying. In 2010 it had more than 25 000 members (9 768 active in 32 local groups). The organisation focuses mainly on protecting birds of prey, bird ringing, migration, protecting reptiles and amphibians, species protection programmes, habitat protection projects and education. MME has coordinated the monitoring and conservation of the imperial eagle in Hungary since its foundation and it is also the coordinator of the International Imperial Eagle Working Group (1990).
Partners Hortobágy National Park Directorate, Hungary Körös-Maros National Park Directorate, Hungary Bükk National Park Directorate, Hungary Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden, Hungary Zoological Park and Botanical Garden of Jászberény, Hungary Hungarian Hunters’ National Chamber, Hungary Hungarian National Bureau of Investigation, Hungary FILMJUNGLE.EU Society, Hungary


Project reference LIFE10 NAT/HU/000019
Duration 01-JAN-2012 to 31-DEC -2016
Total budget 2,141,597.00 €
EU contribution 1,606,198.00 €
Project location Kozep-Dunantul(Hungary Magyarország) Nyugat-Dunantul(Hungary Magyarország) Eszak-Magyarorszag(Hungary Magyarország) Eszak-Alfold(Hungary Magyarország) Del-Alfold(Hungary Magyarország)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website
Project web site - 2 Project's Facebook page
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "Anti-poisoning working group of the Hungarian rap ...
Publication: Guidelines-Manual "Anti-poisoning working group of the Hungarian rap ...


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version