2 Philippine Eagles die after retrieval

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/June 2) – Two of the four Philippine Eagles retrieved since December 2010 had died due to health complications and injuries from captivity, according to Dennis Salvador, director of the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF).

He said one of the eagles died due to excessive fungal infection which led to multiple organ dysfunction. “We believe that the eagle had been held captive for a relatively long period of time before it was turned over to us,” said Salvador.

The other eagle died of injuries as it was said to have been retrieved with only two primary feathers on its right wing.

“Sadly, people think that we have to take care of the Philippine Eagles, and by ‘taking care’ they actually mean holding the birds in captivity. This is wrong because we are taking them away from their natural habitat,” added Salvador.

He also noted that the people who turn the birds over to their office are also expecting some amount of money as reward. “We only reward the nest-finders; those who are able to report nests, newly-hatched chicks, or breeding eagles. We reward the community or the individual in every milestone of the eagle’s life,” said Salvador.

Tatit Quiblat, the PEF corporate communications officer, said that the current retrieval rate has been the highest since year 2000. “It’s alarming. We understand that some well-meaning citizens want to rescue when they see eagles that are in distress. Unfortunately, with our eagle’s aggressive behavior, if they are mishandled, both the eagle and the rescuer can be harmed,” she warned.

“We advise the people to call PEF or the Department of Environment and Natural Resources office should they see an eagle that needs to be rescued, instead of putting the matters in their own hands,” Quiblat added.

In another press statement, the PEF said, “If the Philippine Eagle, which is already perhaps the most prominent and recognizable of Philippine wildlife species, suffers a fate as grim as the four eagles have experienced, how much more other species? What bigger injustices could possibly be happening to the rest of the Philippine environment?”

The expression of alarm and distress from the PEF has led to further information drive to the communities where Philippine Eagles can possibly inhabit. As PEF celebrates its 13th anniversary on June 4-12, the foundation will be holding Green Mobilization as kick-off to promote awareness to the issue of climate change and encourage more citizens to become advocates of wildlife preservation.

An open house day at the Philippine Eagle, lectures about the rescued animals, and SAYAgila dance competitions are among the events that are slated for the Philippine Eagle Week. (Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan / MindaNews)