Endangered raptor turned over to DENR


A CRITICALLY endangered Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) was recently turned over to the care of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here, after it was rescued by an upland farmer in a forest area in San Luis town in Aurora, according to environment authorities.

Joey Blanco, the DENR provincial chief in Aurora, said that the juvenile raptor was found by a certain upland farmer named Eugene Nace last June 1, 2016 in a trap locally known as a “silo”, which is a type of snare used to catch monkeys.

“The eagle was found inside the forests of Aurora Memorial National Park (AMNP) known for its rich biodiversity. One of the eagle’s claws was trapped in the “silo” but the wildlife sustained no serious injuries in the ordeal”, he said.

According to biodiversity experts, sightings of Philippine Eagle were once reported in the Sierra Madre mountain part of Aurora and the capture of one confirms the existence of the rare bird in the region.

“The Philippine eagle is endemic to the country and it is known to live in areas of Eastern Luzon, Samar and Leyte, while Mindanao supports the bulk of the population”, explained Fred Sadueste, chief of the wildlife enforcement division.

He said that the intensified Information, Education and Communications (IEC) campaign of the DENR has led to an increased awareness of people of the value of wildlife and the proper course of action when finding or capturing such, which is to call the attention of the concerned agency.

“We are planning to train more wildlife enforcement officers and deputize more locals to ensure the protection of wildlife in the Sierra Madre mountain range and in the rest of Central Luzon”, he said.

Francisco Milla, Jr. regional director of DENR in Central Luzon said the rescue of the Philippine eagle is very timely since this month the DENR and the whole country is celebrating the Philippine Environment Month while last June 5 of this year the whole world celebrated the World Environment Day.

This year’s environment month theme “Go Wild for Life, Combat Biodiversity Loss”, underscores the zero tolerance of illegal wildlife trade and the importance of protecting and conserving biodiversity, he added.

“We must conserve and protect our wildlife, especially the Philippine eagle, which is our very own pride. Their population is now dwindling and they are placed at the “critically endangered” status, meaning their kind is nearing extinction” he explained.

The killing of a Philippine Eagle entails a punishment of imprisonment of a minimum of six (6) years and one (1) day to twelve (12) years and/or a fine of one hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) to one million pesos (P1,000,000.00) as stipulated in Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Protection and Conservation law.

According to research, the Philippine Eagle has a total population size of 90-250 pairs or 180-500 mature individuals in captive breeding. The species thrive in primary dipterocarp forest in steep terrain and sometimes in secondary growth forest from lowlands to at least 1,800 meters above sea level.

Research studies also show that in Mindanao the Philippine eagle prey on flying lemurs (Cynocephalus volans), which are absent in Luzon, where the bird was found to prey on two endemic species of cloud rats, monkeys, monitor lizards, birds, palm civets bats and snakes.

The Philippine Eagle was declared by former President Fidel V. Ramos as the national bird of the Philippines on July 4, 1995.The DENR also celebrates the Philippine Eagle Week from June 4 to 10 every year under the Presidential Proclamation No. 79 signed on 1999.

“It is a very good sign for our biodiversity that more of our people are showing concern for wildlife and immediately report sightings of such to our offices. We urged the public to be vigilant in wildlife conservation and in the protection of the remaining forest in the region since Philippine eagle is the symbol of our country and acts as a barometer of the health of our environment”, said Milla.

The rescued raptor is now under the custody of the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) where it will be cared for until it is fit to be released back into the wild.

It may be recalled that two months ago, the DENR regional office, with the help of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), confiscated seven (7) species of Palawan pangolins and spitting cobras from an alleged Chinese smuggler in Clarkfield, Pampamga.

A total of 58 wild birds and animals of various species have been rescued and confiscated by DENR Region 3 since 2011. The DENR has intensified its wildlife monitoring work in a bid to save and protect the remaining wildlife resources as well as arrest the decreasing number of endangered animals.