Rescued Philippine Eagle returns to its home in Bukidnon

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 22 April) – One of the seven Philippine Eagles rescued last year was released back to its habitat in San Fernando, Bukidnon on Thursday, Earth Day, the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) and Australian government said in a press release.

Tagoyaman Fernando flies back to his home in the forest of San Fernando, Bukidnon. Photo courtesy of PEF

Named Tagoyaman Fernando in honor of its rescuer, Datu Tagoyaman Sinangkap, the eagle was retrieved last year in San Fernando after getting accidentally caught in a trap intended for other animals.

It was then brought to the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City for further checkup and rehabilitation.

“Rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing Philippine Eagles in the middle of a pandemic is very challenging. It’s difficult to mobilize field operations when travel restrictions are imposed and sources of funds are shut down. Still, we are able to persevere, thanks to the support of the Australian Government and other conservation partners,” said Dennis Salvador, executive director of PEF.

“We hope to see Tagoyaman successfully breed and contribute to his species’ wild population in the future. His release on Earth Day is also our resounding call for long-term solutions to our problematic relationship with nature and wildlife. We believe that by conserving the Philippine Eagle and the biodiversity it represents, we can avoid another disease outbreak,” Salvador said.

Tagoyaman was the first Philippine Eagle to be released back to the wild this year.

“The Australian Embassy is proud to continue our support to the Philippine Eagle Foundation for the protection and preservation of the Philippine Eagle. I travelled to Bukidnon to witness Tagoyaman’s release because it is an important milestone in the Philippines’ efforts in conserving local wildlife biodiversity,” Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven J. Robinson said.

Tagoyaman Fernando is estimated to be four years old. Photo courtesy of PEF

“Australia stands with our friends in the Philippines as they protect their natural resources, in their lands or seas. This initiative reinforces our deep and expanding relationship as we celebrate the 75th Anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries,” Robinson added.

The PEF said it has taken measures for Tagoyaman’s survival in the wild through the support of its conservation partners.

An education campaign targeting communities surrounding the release site was conducted and Lumad forest guards were trained to perform voluntary forest patrols and monitor Tagoyaman’s movements using the GPS transmitter attached to its back for the next six months, Salvador said.

“Collaborations and partnerships play a big role in Philippine Eagle conservation. The PEF can’t save the eagles alone. We need the help of our local communities, government agencies, the private sector, and the Filipino people so that one day Philippine Eagles will thrive in the wild,” he said.

The Philippine Eagle (Pithecopaga jefferyi), the country’s national bird, is considered critically endangered. Estimates placed their number at around 400 breeding pairs. In Mindanao, they can be found in Mt. Apo, Mt. Kitanglad Range, and in other mountainous areas where forests have remained intact.

Tagoyaman’s release was made possible through the support of the Australian Government, Whitley Fund for Nature, Jurong Bird Park, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region X, and the local government of San Fernando and Bukidnon.

Aside from Robinson, the short program in honor of the raptor’s release was attended by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, San Fernando Vice Mayor Norberto Catalan, and PEF trustee Francis Ledesma. (MindaNews)