DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/s4 June) – Philippine Eagles “Geothermica” and “Sambisig” arrived in Singapore at 2:14 p.m. on Tuesday for a 10-year loan program agreement signed by the Philippine government with Wildlife Reserves Singapore last May 20 to protect the critically endangered raptors from extinction due to calamities and diseases.
Dennis Salvador, Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) executive director, said the eagles left Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) aboard Philippine Airlines flight PR 0507.
The eagles, bred in captivity at the 8.4-hectare Philippine Eagle Center in Malagos, Baguio District in Davao City were flown from Francisco Bangoy International Airport to NAIA at 3:45 a.m.
There are direct flights between Davao and Singapore, serviced by Cebu Pacific and SilkAir, but only PAL has met the requirements to transport delicate animals such as the eagles, according to Dr. Jayson C. Ibañez, PEF’s director of research and conservation.
Salvador said various government agencies helped in the transport of the eagles such as the Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Immigration, and Bureau of Animal and Plant Industry.
He said the raptors were given “special consideration” by PAL. They were the last to board the aircraft and the first to alight.
He said the eagles would be quarantined at the Jurong Bird Park, their home for the next 10 years.
He said senior bird keepers Domingo Tadena and his son, Dominic, accompanied the eagles and the WRS experts.
Philippine passports were also issued to Geothermica and Sambisig.
Shortly before the sendoff, Salvador shared photos of the eagles’ passports, bearing the names of the raptors and their passport numbers.
Both passports were issued on June 4, 2019 and will be valid until June 26, 2021.
But Salvador said those are only “facsimile” passports issued as proof of nationality of the raptors and not valid as travel documents.
“It was just a sample and hindi (not) valid as travel document. It’s just a statement and to bring awareness (of their nationality),” he said.
“They have passports because we are also declaring to the public that they are as Filipinos as we are. They will remain to be Filipinos even if they are in Singapore,” PEF development project manager Andi Baldonado added.
Geothermica and Sambisig were adopted by Energy Development Corporation and Dow Chemical Philippines Inc., respectively.
Ibañez said Sambisig is a 17-year old female eagle and Geothermica is a 15-year old male eagle. Both are at their breeding prime.
“The primary goal is to breed the birds in captivity and if they are successful, the offspring will be brought back to the Philippines and released to places where we have lost our eagles. This is part of several strategies to restore Philippine eagle population,” he said.
He said the purpose of a loan program is to ensure a disease or a calamity will not eliminate the genetic stock of the Philippines eagle, the national bird of the Philippines. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)