|Spanish Imperial Eagle and Griffon Vulture (Tom Wallis)|
|Spanish Imperial Eagle grabbing the secondary feathers of Griffon Vulture (Tom Wallis)|
|Spanish Imperial Eagle pair on the "copulation rock" (Tom Wallis)|
|Mating Spanish Imperial Eagles (Martin Kelsey)|
The biggest threat to these species is the collapse of one of their key food sources, the rabbit, whose population in Spain has crashed, mainly because of RHD (Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease) which first appeared in Spain in 1988. The conservation status of rabbit is now classed as Vulnerable. Rabbits are keystone species in the Mediterranean ecosystems, with two emblematic species, the Spanish Imperial Eagle and Iberian Lynx being highly specialised as rabbit predators.
I watched the combat now between the Spanish Imperial Eagle and the Griffon Vulture with a different light. No longer was the vulture the weaker victim, it was the eagle that bore fragility, vulnerable not to the outcome of aerial battles, but to the impact of the workings of an invisible virus.