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Philippines mull sending eagles abroad to ensure species survival

the Philippine Eagle Foundation was forced to close the centre to the public from August 15 to 16

Gulf News

Manila: Wildlife conservation officials have proposed sending some of the endemic Philippine Eagles abroad to ensure their survival in the event of an avian flu outbreak.

“This may be necessary to ensure the survival of our eagles in the event of an epidemic,” Dennis Salvador, president of the Philippine Eagle Foundation was quoted in reports as saying as officials mull what steps to take to save the raptor, which is endemic to the country’s forests.

The recent outbreak of avian flu in Central Luzon in the northern portion of the country has prompted officials like Salvador to think of ways to ensure that the species would not be wiped out in the event of an epidemic.

Currently, a considerable number of the estimated 400 surviving Philippine Eagles are under the care of the Philippine Eagle Foundations’ aviary in Malagos, Davao City. Having some of the captive eagles taken to other countries would mean that in the event on an outbreak, not every bird from this particular gene pool would be susceptible to an epidemic such as that coming from the Avian Flu.

It had been reported in the MindaNews that the Philippine Eagle Foundation was forced to close the centre to the public from August 15 to 16 following an outbreak of the H5 strain of avian influenza in Pampanga.

The country holds the Philippine Eagle dearly and having some of it owned by an aviary or zoo in another place abroad would be somewhat unthinkable, for this reason, Salvador said the PEF had proposed that raptors that would be taken abroad would be considered as “on loan” and not sold.

“The Filipino people still own the eagles, including their off springs,” he said.

Salvador said they had proposed the idea to Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu and that they hope the official would respond positively to the proposal.

He said that in other countries, stewardship of endemic wildlife, especially those nearing extinction is an accepted practice.

Salvador said that the Singapore Zoo and San Diego Zoo in the US have made known their intention to accept some of the Philippine Eagles currently sheltered in Malagos.

At 100cm the Philippine Eagle (scientific name: Pithecophaga jefferty) is the longest raptor and is endemic to the country’s forests. It was previously known as the “monkey eating eagle.”