The rescued Philippine Eagle “Salagbanog” or “Sarangani Eagle” will be released on June 13, marking the celebration of Philippine Eagle Week.
“As we commemorate our annual celebration of Philippine Eagle Week, we celebrate the return of Salagbanog to its native forest after 18 months of rehabilitation, an opportune time for this young bird to return to its kind,” said the Acting Environmental Secretary Jim O. Sampulna. said in a press release.
Under the theme “Kapayapaan to Kalayaan: Ang Agila to Mamamayan, May Kaugnayan”, the Philippine Eagle Week celebration was held from June 4 to 10, as required by Presidential Proclamation 79, Series of 1999.
According to Jayson Ibanez, director of research and conservation for the Philippine Eagle Foundation, the eagle’s release date of June 13, a day after Philippine Independence Day on June 12, was determined after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), local government and PEF organized an extensive information, communication and education (IEC) campaign and consultations with residents of the six barangays of the release site.
“We spoke to the communities and told them about the release, and asked them to help protect Sarangani [eagle],” he said.
Ibanez told the BusinessMirror that IEC campaigns are carried out by the PEF every time it releases a Philippine eagle.
He said the release of the eagle was symbolic of the country’s celebration of Philippine Independence Day.
“The cry for conservation for the Philippine eagle is also for enduring freedom for our national bird. Safe from human harm, safe from gunfire, safe from hunting, safe from sheltered from the deforestation that destroys their homes, so I think it’s not hard to understand that, like people, their way of life is freedom in nature,” Ibanez said.
‘Fly Malaya Fly’
Besides the Salagbanog outing, the DENR Biodiversity Management Office (DENR-BMB) has also prepared other activities, such as the interactive storytelling of the book “Fly Malaya Fly”.
The activity will be broadcast live in Singapore at the Holy Family School of Excellence, a Filipino school for expatriates.
Students can watch the activity as part of DENR’s conservation efforts to instill awareness and appreciation for the Philippine Eagle.
On June 4 and 5, tour guides were stationed in front of the Philippine eagle exhibit at Jurong Bird Park (JBP), which houses “Sambisig” and “Geothermica”, a pair of Philippine eagles on loan to Singapore.
They provided information to park visitors about the Philippine eagle, the plight of the bird, and their daily activities, among other things.
Philippine eagle keeper Justin Huang will also post on JBP’s official Instagram account to share information about the birds’ daily activities.
Videos of the Philippine Eagle Foundation’s conservation efforts and the arrival of the birds at Jurong Bird Park were shown at tram stations in the park from June 4-10.
DENR-BMB OCI Director Natividad Y. Bernardino highlighted the role of Filipinos as “responsible citizens to usher in a new era of commitment to save our endangered wildlife, especially our national bird.”
“We need to stand up and chart our path to the next level to truly understand the plight of our national bird,” Bernardino said.
Fight against forest habitat loss
The Philippine eagle, with the scientific name Pithecophaga jefferyi, is considered a critically endangered species endemic to the country.
“The capture of Salagbanog was a testament to the Philippine eagles’ ongoing battle against the loss of their forest habitat and a chance for the bird to recover, survive and live freely, carving out its own niche,” said he declared.
“The battle for these birds is undeniably our own battle as well,” Sampuna added.
A “lucky” survivor
Salagbanog was lucky to have survived several assassination attempts, he said.
The eagle was rescued after being trapped with thorny rattan vines, while preying on a monkey at Salagbanog Falls in Barangay Ticulab, Maitum town, Sarangani province on January 9, 2021.
An X-ray showed a “large marble” was palpable under her skin, while a smaller pellet was detected on her right collarbone.
The marble was used in an improvised air gun as a bullet to shoot the bird.
The wounds inflicted on the bird also showed that the attack probably happened earlier and remained unnoticed until captured.
Prior to Salagbanog’s release, a veterinarian checked his health which showed that the bird was healthy and free from any disease.
Saranggani: A Philippine Eagle Stronghold
Ibanez said that at the initiative of Maitum Mayor Alexander Bryan B. Reganit, Salagbanog was renamed “Sarangani eagle”, to represent the province’s reputation as the stronghold of the Philippines’ eagle population.
“So far, since the 1990s, we have rescued a total of five Philippine eagles from the Sarangani forest. And we know of at least three nesting sites of Philippine eagles in [the province]”, Ibanez told BusinessMirror in an interview via Messenger on June 8.
According to Ibanez, thanks to the support of various stakeholders, especially the communities of Sarangani Province, the release of Sarangani Eagle will be the sixth of the pandemic.
He credited the support of LGUs, the private sector, especially private citizens, which he described as “crowdfunding” that bolsters PEF’s Philippine eagle rescue and rehabilitation efforts.
Like all Philippine Eagles previously published by DENR and PEF, the Sarangani Eagle will be monitored by a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS).
“In this release, Sarangani Energy Corp. and Siguil Hydro Power Corp. are providing funds for the purchase of radio and satellite transmitters for Sarangani Eagle,” Ibanez said.
“We cannot liberate Sarangani without a GPS tracker. This is the only way to monitor the bird and know it is alive,” he added.
“Help Save PHL Eagle”
To those who continue to hunt birds of prey, especially the iconic Philippine monkey-eating eagle, Ibanez has appealed to help protect and save the eagle instead of risking prosecution.
He pointed out that hunting, harming or harvesting wild animals is illegal.
“We encourage wildlife hunters and those who collect biodiversity from the wild that there is an alternative. And this alternative helps the nation preserve what is left of our natural resources,” he said.
“We have proven time and time again that we can improve the lives of communities, including hunters, through conservation. So we encourage them to get involved in the conservation movement and see for themselves that it can really help them with their other aspirations,” he said.
The Philippine eagle, an apex predator, is an ecosystem indicator, Sampulna said.
The presence of the Philippine eagle in the country’s forests, he said, is a testament to a sustainable and rich environment.
“Therefore, as we give up a national treasure to give one more bird a chance to be free again, it should remind us that wildlife, like people, must fulfill their role for the sustenance of life. on earth,” he said. .