DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/7 June) – The two Philippine Eagles sent to Jurong Bird Park of Wildlife Reserves Singapore on Tuesday were adapting well to their new environment, Dominic Tadena, senior bird keeper at the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) said on Thursday.
Tadena, who is in Singapore for one week to assist the bird keepers there during the transition, said the appetite of Geothermica and Sambisig was “back to normal.”
The eagles had been kept in separate enclosures and are quarantined for 60 days.
He said the eagles were given white rat and goat meats around 10 a.m. on Wednesday but the keepers saw the birds started eating only around 3 p.m. They were fed mostly goat meat on Thursday.
The eagles were loaned out to Singapore for 10 years after the Philippine government and WRS signed last May 20 a loan program agreement to protect the critically endangered species from extinction due to calamities and diseases.
“Yung old place kung saan naka established na sila as their territory e medyo na disoriented sila ngayon (They have already established the old place as their territory so they are quite disoriented now),” he said.
Geothermica and Sambisig, both captive-bred eagles at the 8.4-hectare Philippine Eagle Center in Malagos, Baguio District in Davao City, arrived in Singapore at 2:14 p.m. on Tuesday.
The two raptors are undergoing a natural pairing process, according to Tadena, the birds’ keeper for two years.
The PEF had initially attempted last year to breed the raptors through a natural pairing process but that it had to be aborted as discussions on the loan program between DENR and WRS began, he said.
“We tried to stimulate them during breeding season last year but we had to terminate it because discussion on breeding loan program started and we expected the birds would be transferred (to Singapore) around same period,” he said.
He explained only raptors with no contact with humans may undergo the natural pairing process while those that had been imprinted on their keepers would have to undergo the cooperative artificial insemination breeding program.
Under the artificial insemination breeding program, Tadena said the keepers would attempt to establish a bond with the eagles to become their “human surrogate mate.”
To qualify for the loan program, he said the eagles should be captive-bred, not blood related to maintain a strong gene pool, not imprinted on their keepers, and have no history of illnesses.
It also requires that both eagles must be at their breeding age, from 10 to 25 years old. Sambisig, a female, is 17 years old, and Geothermica, a male, is 15 years old.
Lace Viojan, PEF education officer, told the 12 journalists participating in the “Learning Field Visit on World Environment Day and Eagle Week” that the sex of eagles could be determined when they reach the maturity age of five to seven years.
he activity was organized by the Philippine Network of Environmental Journalists in cooperation with Vera Files and Internews Earth Journalism Network.
The PEF had tried to pair the raptors with different partners but they were rejected, Tadena said.
He said the PEF saw signs that natural pairing, which put Geothermica and Sambisig inside an enclosure with a partition screen in between that allowed them to see each other while preventing any physical harm, had succeeded as they were often seen perched close to each other and showed no sign of aggression during the process.
The other compatibility signs under a natural pairing process are when the male and the female birds build nests together and the male bird offers food to the female, Tadena said.
“Our priority is the natural pairing process. That’s the first while the artificial breeding is secondary, and it will be done if we have no other choice, otherwise, the birds will end up killing each other as they are highly aggressive,” he said.
Sambisig is an offspring of naturally paired rescued eagles Sam and Diamante while Geothermica is the offspring of Junior and Kahayag through the cooperative artificial breeding program, he said.
He said 28 of the 32 Philippines Eagles at the Philippine Eagle Center are bred in captivity. Eighteen are kept in the conservation breeding area.
Each female eagle can produce 26 to 30 eggs in her lifetime, Tadena said. Breeding season of the eagles lasts from July to February.
He said aside from eagles, the center also houses Pinsker’s Hawk Eagles, another endangered species endemic to Mindanao.
He said the center breeds rabbits, white mice, quails, rodents and guinea pigs as food for the eagles. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)