Biogeographical and Topographical Variation in the Prey of the Black Eagle in the Cape Province, South Africa.
Ostrich 62: 59-72.
Prey remains collected at or near Black Eagle Aquila verreauxii nest sites in the Cape Province, South Africa, were analysed according to frequency of occurrence of prey species in the samples. A total of 5748 prey individuals, collected from 73 sites, was analysed according to three biome groups and four nest site types. The Rock Hyrax Procavia capensis is the dominant prey species, but the eagles' diet spectrum varies according to its availability. Indices of species richness and diversity of the prey are inversely correlated with the proportion of the prey contributed by P. capensis, which in turn is determined by topography and vegetation. Biome has a greater influence on the indices than has nest site type. The age structure of the P. capensis prey remains closely reflects the juvenile:sub-adult:adult ratios in the biomes and at the nest site types. Medium-sized (approx. 1-4,5 kg) prey is usually taken. Juvenile domestic small-stock (lambs and goat kids) comprised only 3,4% of the overall total.