Caged 4-month-old Philippine eagle killed by snake

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 08 April) – “Espoir,” a four month-old Philippine eagle, died after being attacked by a reticulated python inside its enclosure at 12:13 a.m. last April 5 at the Philippine Eagle Center (PEC) in Barangay Malagos, Baguio District in Davao City.

The Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) said in a statement on Friday that their animal keepers discovered the juvenile raptor, the center’s “Chick No. 29,” lifeless on the floor.

Based on CCTV footage, a python attacked the eaglet while it was brooding.

Hatched on December 4, Espoir, French word for “Hope,” was an offspring of eagle parents Ariela and MVP Matatag.

Philippine Eagle Espoir, (French word for “Hope”) at three months old. Photo courtesy of the Philippine Eagle Foundation

Last month, the Philippine subsidiary of global animal health company, Ceva Santé Animale, adopted the chick. PEF and Ceva signed a Memorandum of Agreement on the adoption of Espoir, where the company pledged to provide an annual support of P200,000 to cover the eaglet’s food, keeper care, veterinary care and shelter maintenance.

The foundation said animal keepers immediately took measures to capture the snake, an animal classified as a hazard under the center’s biosecurity measures.

“Reticulated pythons are  natural resident species inside the Philippine Eagle Center and the surrounding watershed area,” it said.

It added that traps have been set up around the center and search parties mobilized at night to capture the snake.

“Preventive measures are in place to ensure that the enclosures for animals are safe against hazards and incidents of this nature. The walls of the enclosure were snake-proofed with an added layer of ½ inch wire mesh on top of the original cyclone wire with hole size of two by two inches,” it said.

PEF said that the center suspected that the possible entry points could be the feeding chute, made of a PVC pipe where food is dropped, or the screen ceiling.

It said the enclosure of the eaglet is adjacent to an adult Philippine eagle from the wild that can easily catch a snake but “unfortunately for fledglings, they are still vulnerable to predation.”

“They are classified as hazards under the PEC’s biosecurity measures. As such, snake proofing was done on the enclosures of the eaglet and other animals that a snake can prey on,” it said.

Dr. Jayson Ibañez, the foundation’s director of research and conservation, said the snake has not yet been captured.

He said the center has already enlisted two indigenous peoples (IP) or Lumad forest guards for help to catch the snake.

“We asked the help of IP forest guards who are good at trapping wildlife. Two IP forest guards ang nakaduty for trapping ngayon with our own team (Two IP forest guards are on duty for trapping with our own team),” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)