Hope for the Eagle is hope for the Filipino
A visit to Davao City should include a trip to the Philippine Eagle Center, or else you’ll miss a chance of seeing the King of Birds. Talking about royalty (allow me to sway a bit), Davao is the King city of the South, and is where the King of Fruits (durian) abundantly grows, and is also home to the Queen of Philippine Flowers (waling-waling). So, you have three kings and one queen! Wow, and you find them all here in this lovely city!
Okay, back to the King of the Birds. A lot, especially those who live outside Mindanao, only know Pag-asa. Why not, since he was the first Philippine eagle bred through artificial insemination in 1992. This was a breakthrough for Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF)who tirelessly researched (and voluntarily gave up their salaries for some months to feed the eagles) for ways to help this national treasure escape extinction.
According to the PEF, there are now only about 400 eagle pairs left in the country. Their numbers are dwindling, putting them in the endangered list of species. It takes five to seven years for a Philippine eagle to sexually mature and those who are already capable of reproducing only lay a single egg in every two years. Thus, the need for artificial insemination and captive breeding. Since Pag-asa, the PEF has successfully hatched 22 captive-bred Philippine eagles.
Being one of the largest eagles in the world, the Philippine Eagle stands up to three feet with a wingspan that can reach to seven meters. It has s long arched beak and is the only blue-eyed raptor in the world. They see eight times the distance thn that of humans. The Philippine eagle finds its home in dipterocarp trees and can be found in the forests of Mindanao, in some parts of Luzon, Samar and Leyte. Like other eagles, the Philippine eagle is monogamous, meaning it keeps only one mate for life (Boys, if the eagle can, why can’t a lot of you do it?!)
Though regarded as king of the Philippine skies, Pag-asa and his kind are still in the danger of exploitation by ruthless people. Deforestation and hunting remain as top factors for the decreasing number of Philippine eagles. When trees are continually taken down, the eagles find no food. They flee to communities with people then they get hunted.
Sadly, even in protected areas like Bukidnon, Philippine eagles get killed. Remember Kagsabua? He was retrieved from the forests of Bukidnon in 2006 and was brought to the Philippine Eagle Center for treatment and rehabilitation. In the eagle sanctuary, Kagsabua was passionately cared for and was even trained to avoid electric posts (so there won’t be a repeat of the Kabayan tragedy). He was released back to his natural habitat in March 2008 but roughly four months after, he was declared dead. Only his tarsi and the transmitters attached to him were seen. The culprit? A local farmer who allegedly thought Kagsabua was “just” an ordinary bird! He said he was hungry, saw the bird perching near his vegetable garden, then shot him with his airgun. Then he cooked Kagsabua into tinola! Gruesome!
A little more than a year after the crime, the case has not yet moved and the suspect is still out of jail. The law says that he’s supposed to pay a million and suffer 12 years in jail. But it seems that due process for Kagsabua is slower than a snail.
The crime done to Kagsabua is a threat not only to Philippine eagles. It is a threat to us as a nation. The Philippine eagle is ours and can only be found in our land. If we do not take care of its posterity, we lose our heritage. Let’s help save these eagles and let them soar freely in our skies. Stop deforestation and ban hunting of wildlife. There’s still a glimmer of hope. Let’s give it to these eagles and the returns will be reaped by more generations!