Search for Philippine Eagle breeding pair in Maitum recommended

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 06 January) —  The Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) has recommended an immediate search for a possible breeding pair of the national bird in the mountains of Maitum town in Sarangani Province following the rescue of a juvenile raptor in the area earlier this week.

Dr. Jayson Ibanez, PEF director for research and conservation, said in a statement that there could be breeding or nesting pair of the Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) in Maitum’s forests.

The juvenile Philippine Eagle rescued in Maitum, Sarangani on January 2 was transfered to cage at the Philippine Eagle Center in Dvaao City on January 4 for a three-week rehabilitation before it is returned to the forests of Maitum. The eagle has received fluids to address dehydration and also shots of vitamins and antibiotics. JAKE NARTE / Sarangani Information Office

He specifically cited portions of Barangay Batian, where the estimated year-old bird was found by a local resident last Monday.

“The implication is that we still have a breeding pair, a nesting pair in Maitum specifically in Barangay Batian,” he said.

Ibanez said there is need to verify and look for active nests within the area.

He also called for the installation of a community-based conservation program for the Philippine Eagle that would be spearheaded by the area’s local government units and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“We are quite excited about this because I think this would become the entry point. It would become the start of a systematic Philippine Eagle conservation program within Maitum and also across the mountain range of Mt. Busa,” he said.

The eagle was found by farmer Gibson Badal in his area in Barangay Batian.

The village is part of the Mt. Busa complex, a declared key biodiversity area and an important bird area.

It is home to critically endangered, threatened, vulnerable and rare bird species.

Ibanez said the presence of an eagle pair means there is adequate habitat in the area.

“Having a nesting territory is special because the Philippine Eagle is very loyal to them. They use it across generations, meaning as long as they are intact, their reproduction will continue. That is really very important for a critically endangered species like the Philippine Eagle,” he said.

The municipal government of Maitum turned over the rescued bird on Wednesday to the Philippine Eagle Center (PEC) in Malagos, Calinan in Davao City.

Elizabeth Ramos, Maitum municipal accountant and information officer-designate, said the rescue of the bird was made possible through the joint efforts of the DENR’s Community Environment and Natural Resources Office based in Kiamba town-CENRO Kiamba, the municipal government and the PEC.

Ibanez, who assessed the bird, said it was severely dehydrated upon arrival at the center.

“It is overly thin, which it did not get adequate nourishment from the parents,” he said.

An x-ray of the bird made by PEC personnel showed an embedded pellet in its left groin area.

A PEC veterinarian inspected the possible entry point of the bullet but found none.

“There was no entry point so it is an old wound that already healed. We normally don’t do anything if the case is not fatal,” Ibanez said. (MindaNews)