An Indian who provides ecotourism tours in the southeastern state of Chiapas spotted a Harpy eagle in a nature preserve in the Lacandona jungle, marking the first sighting of one of these birds of prey in Mexico since 1998, the Environment Secretariat said.

Silvano Lopez, who works for the Siyaj Chan ecotourism group, saw the eagle in the Yaxchilan national preserve, near the border with Guatemala, the secretariat said.

Lopez was on a birdwatching trip with two other people when he spotted the Harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja), an endangered species.

"The bird was perched on a tree when Silvano caught it with his camera," the secretariat said, adding that Lopez also works with the National Protected Natural Areas Commission, or Conanp.

The photographs taken by Lopez show "an adult or nearly adult eagle," possibly age 2 or 3, "according to the characteristics of its plumage, and it measures around 90 centimeters (35 inches)," the secretariat said.

The eagle was about 200 meters (655 feet) from the Usumacinta River in the direction of the Yaxchilan archaeological zone, on the Mexican side of the border, in an evergreen jungle ecosystem, the secretariat said.

Preserve personnel and Frontera Corozal community residents should "redouble efforts" to protect the jungle in the Mexican region, Conanp chairman Luis Fueyo said.

Harpy eagles live in "pristine habitats with broad forest sections," the secretariat said, adding that the birds' presence in Mexico "speaks well of the good state of conservation in the region."

Conservation efforts in the area are the result of "cooperation among local communities, non-governmental organizations and officials," the secretariat said.

The eagle's sighting "is of great importance not just for the scientific community specializing in raptors, but also for all birdwatchers and all the people of Chiapas," Yaxchilan national preserve director Sonia Nañez said.