Going to extremes for black eagle conservation

Africam.com, known for live streaming video of African wildlife on the internet, is launching a new camera that will broadcast the wild black eagles of Roodekrans from Johannesburg, South Africa. At the moment the female black eagle Emoyeni, which means ‘upon the wind’, is sitting on her two eggs which are expected to hatch sometime in the next few days.

Emoyeni black eagle Roodekrans

Emoyeni sitting on her eggs © Africam.com

Sponsored by Credit Guarantee, this latest conservation project focuses on the ambitious task of capturing the breeding cycle of the black eagles as they attempt to raise their new chicks.  What makes it so ambitious is that the nest of this particular pair of eagles is embedded into the sheer rock face of a 50 metre (164 feet) high cliff. To bring the story to people’s computer screens would require not only the use of some ground breaking technology but also an installation team complete with avid and experienced rock climbers.

Africam black eagles camera setup

The black eagle camera setup © Africam.com

The Africam team designed a custom made camera rig weighing in excess of 40kgs (88 lbs), with a 2 metre (6.5 feet) extension arm drilled directly into the rock face. This would allow the remote controlled pan, tilt and zoom camera to swing out from the cliff and provide an unobstructed view of the nest. The installation took 2 days and went smoothly considering the circumstances.

The 2012 Black Eagle Cam has also added 2 more innovations to help improve the experience. The first is infrared LED lights which provide night vision and will allow the viewer to witness the family 24 hours a day. Additionaly, a omni-directional microphone will capture the ambient sound of the waterfall adjacent to the nest and the high pitched calls of the black eagle and her chicks.

Africam endeavours to be as environmentally friendly and sustainable as possible in all its projects, and this one is no exception. For this reason all the equipment is solar powered. Two 75 watt panels  and 5 deep cycle batteries, located on one of the cliff’s ledges, provide 24 hour power and create the video stream which is sent out across the globe.

Africam black eagle camera installation

Installation of the black eagle camera © Africam.com

It may seem like this is a great deal of trouble to go through simply for a bird cam. However, the reason Africam have gone to these extreme lengths is because the star of the show Emoyeni, is anything but ordinary.

Emoyeni is over 40 years old and has been nesting at this site since the 1970′s. She has brought many chicks into the world through the years, sometimes against great odds, including the rapid urbanisation of her immediate hunting ground.

2012 will be no different to Emoyeni. She will prepare her nest, lay her eggs and fight to nurture a new black eagle into the world. The difference is this year we will all get to be a part of it, watching the story unfold live, 24 hours a day.

Watch the black eagle camera live!

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