Javan Eagle, One Of The Rarest Raptors In The World

Often referred to as “Garuda”, the mythical bird in Hindu Buddhist beliefs, Javan Eagle, a species of raptor that only lives in Java Island, is recognized as Indonesia’s national bird and icon. Since it was listed as full species in 1953 its number in the wild is decreasing rapidly. Conservation effort is now under way to save this unique creature.

This bird was first discovered in 1820. It took more than one hundred years before the bird was recognized as new species and classified into the genus of Nisaetus. It was listed as endangered by Indonesian government in 1992. The

raptor had also been marked as endangered on IUCN Red List of Threatened species.


Matured Javan Eagle is a medium-sized bird that has approximate length of 61c m, long black crest with white tip, rufous head, chestnut sides of nape and head, black crown, black moustache, white throat with dark stripes in the middle, dark brown back, dark brown wings, brownish tail with four dark stripes and white tip, yellow or brownish eyes, dark beak and golden paws.  The females look similar with the male only bigger and the young look paler than the adult.

Habitat, Breeding and Diet

Javan Eagle (Nisaetus Bartlesi) lives only in Java Island. Its main habitat is the humid primary forest in the southern mountainous part of the island stretched from West to East. It can live in an area of up to 3,000 meters above sea level. The bird usually builds its nest on top of high forest trees.
Javan Eagle is assumed to be monogamous. It can breed anytime of the year but mostly in January to July. It breeds only once every two years and lays only one egg at a time. The breeding period is around 47 days.

These rare raptors hunt their prey from their high-tree nest. Their preferred menu includes small mammals such as bats, fox, baby monkey; other reptiles such as snake and lizard; and smaller birds. 

Recent Status

Approximately, there are only

600-900 birds left in the wild and the population shows a decreasing trend. The bird’s prestigious status as rare species and Indonesia’s national icon only encouraged the illegal hunting of this bird. Collectors are willing to pay huge sum of money for this celebrated eagle. Increased demand had simultaneously increased the trading of Javan Eagle in the black market. It is estimated that at least 40 eagles were sold in the black market per year and most of them are smuggled overseas.

In addition to illegal hunting, the bird’s natural habitat is also suffered from illegal logging and land conversion. Dense human population in Java Island had been the major cause of deforestation. Hectares of woods had been converted into farmland or housing estates. The local agricultural practice of setting fire to open the forest for farming had also increase the level of forest destruction.

Conservation effort

Indonesian government had established two national parks in West Java and one in East Java as protected conservation areas for the Javan Eagle. The monitoring program of Javan Eagle population in these national parks is being done continually. However, educational campaign to local communities has to be continuously implemented too to increase awareness, and avoid further forest encroachment for agricultural purposes. In addition, there is now an effort to guard nests found near human settlement.

To reduce the trafficking of Javan Eagle, the government with the help of conservation groups confiscates birds traded illegally in the market. The confiscated birds then taken to rescue centre for rehabilitation prior being released back to the wild.
Hopefully the above efforts will be able to sustain the habitat of these endangered eagles and help them to survive.

Article Written By Yovita Siswati

Yovita Siswati is a blogger at

Last updated on 27-07-2016 79 0

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