Year-old Philippine Eagle rescued in Maitum, Sarangani

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /04 January) — An estimated year-old Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) rescued in Barangay Batian in Maitum, Sarangani Monday arrived at the Philippine Eagle Center here at 2 a.m. Wednesday, for examination and rehabilitation.

The rescued national bird, a cricitically endangered species, was brought to the Center by representatives from Maitum and Sarangani province, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Dr. Jayson Ibanez, Director for Conservation of the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF).

Philippine Eagle “Maitum,” rescued in Barangay Batian, Maitum, Sarangani, is now at the Philippine Eagle Center in Malagos, Calinan, Davao City for examination and rehabilitation before it will be returned to Maitum, hopefuly within three weeks. Photo courtesy of Rey Balazon/Maitum Information Office

The Sarangani Information Office quoted Maitum Mayor Alexander Bryan Reganit as saying  the eagle’s rescue “only proves that Maitum still has a thick forest that we ought to preserve and protect.”

“I will do my best to protect the endangered species of Maitum as our legacy to the future generations,” he said.  Reganit expressed hope the rescued eagle would be named “Maitum.”

Farmer Gibson Badal, 26, of Barangay Batian found the eagle standing in his area at around 9 a.m. on Monday.  He said the bird appeared weak and did not move when he approached it.

The bird was fed live chicken. It ate half on Monday and the other half on Tuesday.

Alver Caasi, who happened to visit Batian on Monday was informed by residents that they were selling the bird but he warned them they would be jailed if they did that.

Caasi took photographs and a video of the eagle and sent it to Maitum Information Officer Beth Ramos, who happens to be his relative.

Ramos told MindaNews that she immediately informed the DENR which immediately sent a team to rescue the eagle. The DENR suggested to the mayor to bring the eagle to the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City.

MindaNews forwarded to Dennis Salvador, Executive Director of the Philippine Eagle Foundation which runs the Philippine Eagle Center,  the photographs and video Ramos sent to MindaNews.

Salvador told MindaNews on Tuesday that he would send a team to Maitum to fetch the bird or if the team had left for Davao, to meet them halfway.

Ramos said PEF director for conservation Ibanez proceeded to Maitum, arriving there at 8 p.m.. The team left Maitum for Davao City at 9 p.m. and dropped by a hospital in Calinan, Davao City for an X-Ray of the bird. The team arrived at the Philippine Eagle Center at 2 a.m. Wednesday.

Ibanez told MindaNews in a telephone interview Wednesday morning that the bird, estimated to be a year old and still dependent on its parents for food, will undergo examination and rehabilitation. He said the X-Ray results show a pellet in the left groin area. The bird was also severely dehydrated.

Ibanez said they hope to return “Maitum” to Maitum within three weeks to reunite with its parents.

Farmer Gibson Badal of Barangay Batian, Maitum, Sarangani, found this year-old Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) on January 2 and turned it over to the team sent by Mayor Alexander Bryan Reganit on January 3. A team from the mayor’s office and the Philippine Eagle Foundation brought the bird to Davao City, arriving there at 2 a.m. January 4. Photo courtesy of Rey Balazon/ Maitum Information Office

The Sarangani press release said Ibanez visited Batian in 1996 and confirmed the presence of a pair of Philippine Eagles there.

It also noted that Barangay Batian, where “Maitum” was found, is within Mt. Busa complex, a priority conservation and protection biodiversity study area. It is one of the remaining forests in the province.

Mt. Busa (Area: 114,144 hectares) was declared as a key biodiversity area (KBA 116) and an important bird area (IBA PH0105) in 2001. It harbors critically endangered, threatened, vulnerable and rare bird species and connects several conservation priorities.

The Environmental Conservation and Protection Center (ECPC) of the provincial government has reported sightings of tarsier, wild deer, pigs, monkeys, bats, civets and endangered species of birds at the foot of Mt. Busa.

It said Mt Busa, which straddles the towns of Maitum, Kiamba and Maasim, “is threatened by land conversion (to farmland), kaingin (slash-and-burn), wildlife hunting, illegal logging and mining.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)