Transfer of 3 breeding pairs of Philippine Eagle eyed amid bird flu threat

A Philippine Eagle feeds on a rabbit at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City. MindaNews file photo by RUBY THURSDAY MORE

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 8 June) – The Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) is eyeing to make an emergency transfer of its three breeding pairs of the endangered Philippines Eagle to Barangay Eden in Toril District, Davao City this year amid the threat of the highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) or bird flu.
 
Andi Baldonado, PEF development program manager, told Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR 87.5) on Wednesday that the foundation wanted to establish this year temporary enclosures in a new location owned by the city government to house the eagles and protect them from the deadly avian flu.
 
“Our priority is to transfer first the eagles that are currently breeding. We have two or three – one pair is being introduced. We need to prioritize them so that they can continue to breed,” she said.
 
She said the current location in Barangay Malagos poses risks to the eagles as residential areas and game fowl farms around the center have expanded over the years.
 
She estimated that around 400 pairs of eagles are left in the wild, which put them under the category of “critically endangered species.”
 
“There are farms adjacent to our property and it’s very disturbing for pairs to breed,” she said.
 
She cited that eagles are very sensitive and breeding activities can get easily disrupted by the noise.
 
She added the disturbances from adjacent communities make it hard for the pairs to breed and produce eggs.
 
“Later on, the goal is to develop a new facility there that is intended for breeding and rehabilitation for eagles. That’s the plan,” she said.
 
She said the PEF is waiting for the usufruct agreement with the local government before it can build initial facilities in a 50-hectare area located at the foothills of Mount Apo.
 
Baldonado said the PEF plans to eventually transfer most of its eagles that are being kept at its center in Barangay Malagos to the new “isolated” location in Barangay Eden which the organization intends to use exclusively for breeding and rehabilitation purposes.
 
She said the foundation will establish enough buffer zones to protect the eagles from the threat posed by the expansion of residential areas and to keep them undisturbed while breeding.
 
“We’ve made an assessment already on the area and in fact it’s very ideal for Philippine Eagles because it’s on the foothill of Mount Apo… so that already tells us that it’s ideal for eagles. We really want to prioritize that there is enough buffer around the facility, meaning no one can build houses and any other establishments,” she said.
 
The new location, including its elevation and temperature, is very conducive for the Philippine eagles since Mount Apo is their natural habitat and a known nesting place, according to Baldonado.
 
“It has a total area of 50 hectares. We don’t intend to use most of it. In fact, the core facility will be much less than that. We need buffer surrounding areas. It will not be open to the public or to other people,” she said.
 
But she added that it will keep its center in Malagos for exhibit and educational purposes.
 
She said the center will shut its doors in the event of a confirmed case of bird flu in the city. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)