I have led 20 natural history safari trips to Africa, starting in 1988, and secretary birds were a common sight in my earlier safaris. It is one of my favorite African birds to watch walking across the savannas of East Africa looking for prey. However, in recent trips I noticed fewer and fewer of them and wondered what was happening to them. So, I decided to find out why this magnificent raptor was disappearing from the African savannas.
The secretary bird is found only in Africa. It occurs in 36 countries south of the Sahara Desert and is thought to be declining alarmingly in most places due to human-induced habitat changes. Development agriculture, human settlements, overgrazing and infrastructure are all thought to be driving the secretary bird out of its natural range.