DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/21 August) — Allies of Philippine Eagle Pamana turned to crowdfunding to raise funds to identify the person(s) behind the death of the bird.
#JusticeForPamana, which went live on Thursday in crowdfunding website Indiegogo, is eyeing to raise $10,000 in 45 days. So far it has raised $1,253, a huge chunk coming from TV personality Kim Atienza who launched the Indiegogo project with his wife Felicia.
Kim, a TV host and weather newscaster who is known for being an animal lover, was present during Pamana’s release last June 12. He was the one who opened the bird’s cage during the ceremony.
#JusticeForPamana follows a flexible funding model. This means that the campaign will still receive all funds even if it doesn’t reach its goal. 100% of the donations from the crowdfunding project will go to the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF).
The funds raised by the project will likewise be used to prosecute the perpetrators and to protect the estimated 400 pairs of Philippine Eagles left in the wild.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) also announced on Thursday that it will be offering a reward of P100,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) who killed the bird.
DENR secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said the entire DENR community was distraught over the killing of yet another Philippine Eagle. He called it a setback to government efforts to protect the critically endangered raptor.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of Pamana. Those responsible for this barbaric act must be arrested and punished for committing this environmental crime,” he said in a DENR statement.
He also said that even with the death of Pamana, the government with its partners and the PEF will still continue breeding programs to boost the population of the country’s national bird.
He said the DENR regional office, the Protected Area Management Board of Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (MHRWS) and the PEF are now conducting a full investigation on the incident.
“We are distressed that, despite intensified awareness campaigns by various stakeholders, some people still have a blatant disregard for our natural heritage, which, sadly, is what Pamana’s name means,” he said.
He urged local residents to help authorities track down the killers.
Paje said the Philippine Eagle is protected under Republic Act No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act. Anyone found guilty of killing wildlife species can be imprisoned from six to 12 years, with a fine ranging from P100,000 to P1 million.
Moreover, illegal hunting within the MHWRS, a protected area, is punishable by a jail term of six years and a fine of up to P500,000.
DENR-XI regional director Joselin Marcus Fragada, in a statement, said, “The Mt. Hamiguitan Wildlife Range Sanctuary is jointly monitored by the DENR, the Philippine Eagle Foundation and the Provincial Government of Davao Oriental.
He said that a month before the release of Pamana last June 12, an information and education campaign (IEC) was conducted to inform the public that the eagle was around the area. The community was taught how to protect and to watch over the bird.
“Pamana was found at approximately one kilometer away from where it was released last June 12, meaning its flight is not as high as it could be yet,” he said.
“Our investigation as of now shows that it was found at the periphery of the buffer zone of the declared protected area of Mt. Hamiguitan, particularly at the agro-ecosystem vegetation type of the mountain range, meaning there are a lot of communities in the area and there are still a lot of inhabitants,” he said. “So we are trying now to intensify our campaign regarding the protection of this endangered species and the regulations on weapons such as air gun pellets which may have been the cause of the death of Pamana.”
“The Protected Area Management Board will be convened immediately to discuss the details of what happened to Pamana and more importantly to discuss how to intensify our forest protection inside this sanctuary,” he said, adding they will intensify IEC and will also organize joint monitoring teams.
Last Sunday, Pamana was found dead within a kilometer radius from where she was released in San Isidro Davao Oriental. In her necropsy report, PEF’s veterinarian Dr. Ana Lascano reported the bird was already in “advanced state of decomposition.” The bird had a bullet hole in her right breast and her left shoulder blade was also shattered.
This is not the first time a Philippine eagle was shot dead. On August 14, 2004, a decomposing body of a female Philippine Eagle was found in Mt. Apo in Davao City. (Jesse Pizarro Boga/MindaNews)
(#JusticeForPamana in Indiegogo: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/justiceforpamana-philippine-eagle-killed or scan the QR code)