Der Seeadler fliegt mit Aal in den Krallen übers Wasser
Author: Stefan Schmidt
Pictures: Robert Marc Lehmann, Paula Kormos

White-tailed Eagles in Germany

Photographed by Robert Marc Lehmann

Robert Marc Lehmann is a marine biologist, research diver and prize-winning nature photographer. In HEROES WORLD, he tells us about the stories behind his images.

The history of the white-tailed eagle is a success story. The impressive white-tailed eagle is one of the largest birds of prey in Central Europe. Although it is a strong, swift and noble animal, these characteristics did not save it from edging close to extinction. “When I started at university around 17 years ago, there were only a few hundred white-tailed eagles in Germany,” recalls Robert Marc Lehmann. 

Robert Marc Lehman kniet mit Kamera in der Hand auf dem Boden

After being hunted by humans and due to poisoning with the agricultural insecticide DDT, the entire species was almost eradicated in Central and Western Europe. It was only the prohibition of DDT in the early 1970s and a series of other safeguarding measures, such as protections for nesting sites and winter feeding, that helped the white-tailed eagle population to recover. “Today, there are around 800 breeding pairs in Germany. Of course, I’m delighted that one of the most beautiful birds we have in Germany is back again,” enthuses Lehmann.

“The white-tailed eagle’s comeback story is the result of huge efforts from many environmentalists and conservationists, such as Fred Bollmann. He also helped me to shoot this photo,” recalls the natural photographer. “Fred threw up an eel and the eagle caught it in flight.” The tale with the eel (German: Aal) is also the origin of Bollmann’s nickname, Aalfred.

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