Historically, interactions of indigenous peoples with the Harpy Eagle
(Harpia harpyja) have involved a mixture of fear and awe: fear of its
hunting prowess--that the powerful raptor would see their young children or
pets or domesticated animals as potential prey, and awe of its strength, so
much so that the bird's feathers and talons have been coveted by many as
symbols of power. Unfortunately, at this point, neither fear nor awe can
effectively protect this species. However, more native communities are being
encouraged to support Harpy Eagle conservation through education, through
the involvement of indigenous communities in monitoring activities, and
through the financial incentives received when members of the scientific
community visit nesting sites and critical habitat located on their land.
These local monitors and visiting researchers are ideally positioned to
assess key aspects of resource use and ecological resilience. Hopefully,
the results of studies on wildlife harvesting and management among
indigenous villages in the Rupununi of Guyana discussed in this symposium
will shed light even here.