New Chick Brings Hope for Endangered Philippine Eagle

Dennis Jay Santos
Davao, Philippines
2021-12-07
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New Chick Brings Hope for Endangered Philippine Eagle The Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City announced the hatching of a chick on Dec. 4, 2021.
Courtesy Philippine Eagle Foundation

A conservation group in the southern Mindanao region has successfully hatched a Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), a species that remains critically endangered in the wild.

The chick hatched “25 hours and 13 minutes since it first poked its beak and cracked the egg” on Saturday, Dennis Salvador, executive director of the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF), told BenarNews on Tuesday.

“For a critically endangered species, each individual and each birth really counts,” he said. “It assures us that should such catastrophic events occur, we will continue to have a viable gene pool from which we can undertake recovery efforts.”

The eagle species, found only in the Philippines, is critically endangered because of deforestation and hunting, wildlife authorities say. About 400 breeding pairs are estimated to be in the wild in areas of Luzon island in the north, in Samar and Leyte in the Visayas, and in Mindanao, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

A 7-year-old Philippine Eagle named Scout Binay displays its feathers at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City, April 2013. [Mark Navales/BenarNews]
A 7-year-old Philippine Eagle named Scout Binay displays its feathers at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City, April 2013. [Mark Navales/BenarNews]

The imposing predator has a wingspan of seven feet and is known to snatch monkeys from trees, hence its other name – the monkey-eating eagle. The bird’s blue-grey eyes can see eight times more clearly than human eyes, according to conservationists. 

Efforts to introduce eagles hatched in captivity into the wild have had mixed results, according to the foundation. The first Philippine Eagle bred in captivity in 1992, named Pag-asa, or Hope, died from an infection caused by a parasite in January. 

The foundation said the as-yet-unnamed eagle would be monitored and taken care of by a team of experts at the Philippine Eagle Center and would be placed for adoption by an organization that would have the privilege of naming it. Salvador said the eagle’s gender would be determined at age 6 or 7.

The parents of the chick – female Ariela, who had been paired with MVP Matatag in February 2019 – were rehabilitated at the center after being injured in the wild. The Ariela Marketing Co. adopted Ariela in 2015, and telecom PLDT adopted MVP Matatag in 2017.

The Philippine Eagle is the national bird, but it has been hunted to near extinction. The Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, adopted in July 2001, aims to put a stop to this – violators can be jailed for up to 12 years if convicted.

Despite the law, the government confiscated an eagle in 2006 from a man who had captured and caged the wounded bird. The eagle was rehabilitated and released into the wild, but investigators learned months later that it had been recaptured and eaten by a local farmer.

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The Philippine Eagle named Scout Binay flaps its wings at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City, April 2013. [Mark Navales/BenarNews]

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