The Secretarybird is a wonderfully peculiar character that roams across sub-Saharan Africa. It is the only member of its family, Sagittariidae, which is found nowhere else on earth. These long-legged raptors are world renowned for their ability to expertly dispatch their prey with precise and powerful kicks, prey that notably includes venomous snakes. Such is the admiration for this remarkable species that it is proudly displayed on the South African coat of arms, as a symbol of protection.
There is some tragic irony in the fact that we are currently failing to protect this species from the drastic population declines recorded across Africa (a decline of around 75% in South Africa and worse further afield). These population declines has resulted in the Secretarybird being uplisted to Endangered by the IUCN in 2020, signifying that there is now a very real risk that the species will become extinct if nothing is done. BirdLife South Africa is therefore working hard to understand the ecology of this species and employ effective conservation measures to safeguard this species.