In 20015, David was awarded the first fellowship grant under the AFC's Flag Expeditions Program for his proposal "Expedition to Observe and Portray the Endangered Harpy Eagle and its Habitat". Following what is likely the most extensive artistic study of the Harpy Eagle ever attempted, the resulting artwork will be used to support conservation efforts to restore the Harpy Eagle to its historical ranges, while helping to educate the public on the key role this species plays in the maintenance of a healthy ecosystem.
- Observe and document the Harpy Eagle, as well as some of the other species that share its habitat, many of them also threatened, e.g. macaws, giant otters, and jaguars.
- Upon return from the Expedition, utilize field observations to create a body of work depicting the Harpy Eagle, its habitat, prey, and other species that also benefit from a healthy forest.
- Utilize this body of work, as well as any publicity opportunities, to support conservation initiatives and promote education on the plight of the Harpy Eagle.
- Further the mission of the WNAG and help to establish David's artwork as a vehicle for education about, and conservation of, the
The Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) once ranged from Mexico to Argentina. Unfortunately, the Harpy Eagle has disappeared almost entirely and has become one of the most critically endangered species in the world today, with its numbers declining sharply. The Harpy Eagle has a very large home range (a pair needs 30 square kilometres of forest to thrive), and it survives at the top of the food chain. As such, it is also good indicator species, representing the general health of the ecosystem in which it lives.
Secretive by nature, the few Harpy Eagle pairs left in the wild also range over a wide territory, which makes them extremely hard to find.
In this first Flag Expedition, David Kitler proposed to embark on the the most comprehensive artistic study to date of the Harpy Eagle. On December 2, 2005, David set out to observe, study, and gather reference material for the subsequent artistic portrayal of the Harpy Eagle and its habitat in the Darien Province of Panama. The resulting artwork, as well as the publicity the Expedition will generate, will be used to support conservation efforts currently underway to restore the Harpy Eagle to its historical ranges, while simultaneously helping to educate the public on the key role this species plays in the maintenance of a healthy ecosystem.
By working to protect the Harpy Eagle, we are in fact helping preserve large areas of rainforest - along with all other species that live in them.