DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/09 December) – An adult Philippine Eagle was retrieved at Pasonanca watershed in Zamboanga City last week for assessment and further rehabilitation at the Philippine Eagle enter in barangay Malagos, Baguio District, the Philippine Eagle Foundation said on Wednesday.
The Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) has lost digits one and two on its right claws while it was still in the wild, Edison Dayos, PEF senior animal keeper, told reporters upon their arrival at the Tactical Operations Group of the Philippine Air Force (PAF) in Sasa.
The eagle has four digits on every claw. Digits are equivalent to fingers in human beings.
“Its heartbeat is still fast, the eagle is apparently stressed due to the noise of the plane’s propeller,” Dayos told reporter about a minute after they disembarked from the military plane.
“The eagle is about 5.5 kilos and estimated to be less than 10 years old,” he said.
The eagle’s head was covered with hood while its body was wrapped with towel to restrain its wings. Both claws were wrapped with a masking tape.
Dayos, however, could not say if the digits were intentionally cut or if the eagle lost them by accident while in the wild.
Dr. Ana Lascano, on call veterinarian of the PEF, said the digits may have been cut for a long time already because the wounds have already healed.
“The wounds in the digit have already closed, so it may have been cut for months already. But we don’t have any idea how the eagle lost its digits,” Lascano told MindaNews.
She added that a villager trapped the eagle when it was spotted preying on fighting cocks in the area on December 2.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Zamboanga informed the PEF on Sunday that it will turn over the retrieved eagle.
Dayos added that locals have already spotted the raptor in the 10,600-hectare watershed area prior to the retrieval.
Dayos and Lascano flew with the eagle for about an hour from Zamboanga City on board the Fokker plane of the Philippine Air Force. The plane landed at Davao International Airport at about 3pm.
Several PAF soldiers also approached the eagle at the tarmac and pose for souvenir pictures.
Lascano said it may take a month to rehabilitate and assess if the eagle is fit to be released back to the wild.
But she doubts if the bird is still capable of hunting in the wild given the condition of its claws.
“It maybe be difficult for the eagle to hunt because it lost one of its talons,” Lascano added.
Talons are vital to the eagles since these are used in holding its prey when hunting.
The PEF staff immediately took the bird to the Philippine Eagle Center in Barangay Malagos, some 40 kilometers from the airport. (Keith Bacongco / MindaNews)