June 7, a Philippine Eagle was seen being chased by about 20 large-billed crows by residents of Barangay Kesante, Makilala, North Cotabato. Exhausted, the eagle allegedly spent the night perched near a house and was found on the ground the next morning. Concerned citizens Artemio Hemilo, Joel Arombo, and Jeofrey Rodica then caught and restrained the eagle and brought it to their barangay officials. The eagle was temporarily placed inside the barangay prison cell awaiting response from DENR XII and the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF).
The PEF had organized a rescue team and by noon of June 8 took custody of the bird with assistance from DENR XII representatives. After routine physical examination, the female eagle, around 3 to 4 years old, was found to be uninjured.
For further health check, she was brought to the Philippine Eagle Center (PEC) where she was also provided with nourishment. Upon arrival in Davao City, the eagle was examined through X-ray and there were no bone fractures, internal injuries, or gun pellets found.
While at the PEC, the eagle was also tested for the New Castle Disease and Avian Influenza. The results of both tests came back negative. Animal keepers at the PEC observed that the eagle was alert and responsive with a healthy appetite. After more than a month in rehabilitation, the PEF assessed the eagle was fit for release back to the wild.
The eagle is named “Makilala Hiraya” after the Municipality of Makilala where she was found and “Hiraya” a name that means dreams and aspirations given by PEF conservation partner Energy Development Corporation (EDC). On “World Nature Conservation Day” on July 28, 2020, “Makilala Hiraya” will be released back in her forest home within the Mount
Apo Natural Park boundary in Makilala. EDC CSR-PR Head Atty. Allan Barcena says, “EDC fully supports the protection and conservation of the Philippine eagle. We continue to work with the PEF and our local governments towards protecting the eagle and its natural habitat by increasing and maintaining forest cover.”
According to PEF Director for Research and Conservation Dr. Jayson Ibañez, releasing rescued eagles like “Makilala Hiraya” is important in keeping the wild population thriving. “Protecting the existing wild population is as significant as breeding the eagle in captivity to add new birds in our forests. There is also an opportunity to discover other Philippine eagles in the area in monitoring this eagle after its release,” says Dr. Ibañez. The PEF will monitor “Makilala Hiraya” for the next six months.
DENR OIC, Assistant Secretary for Climate Change and concurrent Director of Biodiversity Management Bureau, Ricardo L. Calderon says “Philippine eagle “Makilala Hiraya’s” rescue and release today call for more robust conservation action as the threats to the survival of the King of Philippine forests has yet to be won over. There is no pretending that conserving the species and its forest habitats is easy. However, we have proven time and again that the joint efforts of the DENR, the PEF, and the local communities are gaining grounds in alleviating the plight of the Philippine eagle and the condition of its forest habitats. Though we continue to be faced with many obstacles in our efforts towards the conservation of the Philippine eagle and biodiversity at large, with a united front, we can ensure that Makilala and her kind shall flourish, soar the skies and claim the forests as their home once more.”
The release will be streamed live on the PEF’s official Facebook Page @phileaglefdn. It will be the first Philippine eagle release that the public can view in real time via the Internet. “Amid the grim situation of the pandemic, we hope that freeing this eagle will inspire optimism amongst Filipinos and everyone who will witness the release” says PEF Executive Director Dennis Salvador. “Despite bigger challenges, we cannot abandon the work in saving our national bird and its forest habitat as this secures our health and livelihood not only today but for the future of our people,” he adds.
The release and monitoring of “Makilala Hiraya” is in partnership with the DENR, the Municipality of Makilala, and EDC.