A Fight for Our Eagles

Bryan Justine Dela Cruz ||

Photo Credits: Audubon

Feared close to extinction because of the rapid decline of its population, the Philippine eagle is continually being conserved and protected by Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) despite the current global health crisis.

The monogamous Philippine Eagle, a natural treasure found only in the Philippines, faces extinction due to human activities, loss of habitat, and slow reproduction rate of once every two to three years. 

The year 2020 had been a chaotic year for the whole world. But for eagle conservationists, 2020 saw hope and optimism, with 7 eagles rescued and two new eagle families sighted.

“We have demonstrated over the past 30 years our commitment to conserve the mighty Philippine Eagle and by hook or by crook, we will sustain that next year and in the years to come,” said Dennis Joseph Salvador, the executive director of the PEF.

He added that he is optimistic that the protection of the species started on the right track for 2021, given the achievements of 2020.

Despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the continuous threat of human activities, the PEF achieved a record number of rescues for the year.

“We are very glad that despite the pandemic’s travel and movement restrictions, we were able to save six of these seven precious birds, with three of them healed and successfully released back to their respective forest homes,” claimed Salvador.

Additionally, with an estimate of 400 nesting pairs of Philippine Eagles left in the wild, the sighting of two families of the raptors, one within Mount Apo Key Biodiversity Area and another within Mount Kampalili-Putting Bato Key Biodiversity Area, was a milestone worth celebrating for the foundation.

“We are very happy every time we discover new pairs,” Jayson Ibanez, research and conservation director at the PEF, said. “It is important to locate the nesting sites so that we can put in place protective measures to ensure they will be out of harm’s way so that the species can reproduce and will not become extinct.”

“Conserving these core areas of reproduction and keeping the nesting pair and their young safe is pivotal to the success of saving the species from being lost forever,” Ibanez added.

In efforts to conserve the critically endangered Philippine Eagle, the PEF has put together various movements and programs like the Bird of Prey: To Save Our Eagle Online Film Screening.

“I’m hopeful that [our film] will make a difference,” says Rettig, “because I’ve seen how images have the power to change the way people look at nature, change the way they look at the environment, and change the way they care.”

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s debut film in partnership with the Philippine Eagle Foundation, the award-winning documentary entitled Bird of Prey, depicts the moving story of a small group of conservationists who are dedicated to their goals and work tirelessly to save these rare eagles from extinction.

“If we lose the Philippine Eagle here in the Philippines, then the whole world loses,” says Professor Perry Ong, University of the Philippines. “The eagle may be found here, but it belongs to the world.”

The Philippine eagle is most certainly a breathtaking beauty of nature that will be a huge loss not only to the Philippines, but also to the whole world if these majestic animals become extinct. 

Therefore, one thing is certain: The PEF will continue its efforts to conserve the population of the Philippine Eagle until thousands of these majestic birds will be soaring high in the sky.

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