Philippine Eagle Week Underscores Threats to the Species

The taxidermy of Pag-asa, the first Philippine Eagle who was bred and hatched in captivity, is on display at the exhibit

The Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) on its 35th anniversary this year, together with SM Lanang Premier, Boysen Paints Philippines, and San Roque Power Corporation present the Philippine Eagle Week (PEW) 2022 from June 4 to 13 with the theme “#AgiLaya: Lasting Freedom for the Philippine Eagle.” Highlights of the event include an exhibit from Jun 5 to 12 featuring Philippine eagle conservation milestones at SM Lanang Premier Atrium. From the taxidermy specimen of the late Pag-asa to gears for forest patrolling, the exhibit gives a glimpse of the significant strides in eagle conservation. 

(L-R) Dennis Salvador, Executive Director of the Philippine Eagle Foundation; Engr. Jonathan Nick Santos, Regional Operations Manager of SM Supermalls; and Dr. Jayson Ibanez, the Director for Research and Conservation of the PEF during the unveiing of the Philippine Eagle Week exhibit at The Atrium of SM Lanang Premier on June 6. The exhibit highlighted the 35 milestones of the foundation in the pst 35 years of its conservation works.

On June 10, PEF Director for Research and Conservation Dr. Jayson Ibanez will give a talk on the ongoing shooting and trapping of the eagle. Joining him is Dr. Emilia A. Lastica-Ternura of the UP Los Banos’ College of Veterinary Medicine who will talk about the Avian Flu and the threat it poses to the Philippine eagle. Capping off the weeklong campaign is the release of rescued Philippine eagle “Saranggani Eagle” in Saranggani Province on June 13. 

PEF Executive Director Dennis Salvador says that rescue, rehabilitation, and release of Philippine eagles have not been at the core of the PEF’s work until recently when the PEF received more reports of eagles persecuted. “While these actions are needed, they take up much of our resources and may even be counterproductive. Unless we put an end to shooting and trapping, we release eagles but they cannot thrive if they are not safe in their natural habitat” Salvador adds. 

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, the PEF has had 12 eagle rescue cases, wherein in every three rescued, one is either shot or trapped. This tells us humans continue to come in contact with the eagle in the forests as encroachment and destruction of natural habitats persist. 

The World Health Organization also stated that the increase in human contact with wildlife in general resulting from forest encroachment and destruction of wildlife spaces intensifies the risk of diseases to jump from animals to humans. Now, coming out of the pandemic, the PEF commemorates PEW with a call for support to actions that not only address the economic impact of COVID-19, but also support the protection of the eagle, its habitat, and our biodiversity in minimizing the threat of future pandemics. 

Aside from shooting and trapping, there is also the looming threat of the Avian Flu. All it takes is a single case of this fatal virus in the Philippine Eagle Center (PEC) and the only captive breeding stock of the species in the world will be wiped out. The recent outbreak in Magsaysay town, which is a mere 90 km southwest of the PEC, brings the threat right at our doorstep and puts at risk all 34 eagles in the PEC of being decimated. That’s losing 5% of the total estimated global population of this already critically endangered bird. To this end, we are working toward moving the PEC eagles to a more secure and a viable location for breeding. But this plan is costly and requires participation from both government and private sectors to implement. This PEW we aim to generate support to this endeavor. 

As such, the PEF brings to the forefront of the PEW the clear and present as well as the emerging threats to the Philippine eagle, and explore solutions with the community. Through the various activities lined up, the objective is to transform the public awareness the Foundation has built in the past three decades into commitment and action from the various sectors of society to address the threats and help save the eagle from the brink of extinction. (PR)

PH Eagle merchandise for sale to help raise funds