Birds of Prey: Saving the Philippine eagle species

The Philippine Eagle Foundation is sounding off the alarm that the Philippine eagle faces extinction within this century, if nothing is done to protect its habitat.

There are only 400 pairs of the Philippine eagle are left in the world.

The eagle — considered as one of the most powerful, largest and most majestic eagles in the world, and with a wingspan of almost seven feet — can only be found in the Philippines.

They mate with only one partner for life, and are able to breed only every two years.

They need a large territory to raise their young, but because of the rapid denudation of the forests and human persecution, they are now in critical danger.

“They have a very high breeding success rate, about, from our studies, about 70% success rate. The problem is they have very high mortality before they reach breeding age. That means many of the birds die before they are able to breed and that’s primarily because of human persecution. They’re being shot, they’re being trapped, so yun ang main problem sa atin and that’s in addition to habitat loss,” said exec. director Dennis Salvador.

To raise global awareness about the critically endangered raptor, Emmy-award winning cinematographer Neil Rettig partnered with the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology to work on a film project about the Philippine eagle.

The result of their work is the film “bird of prey.”

“This is a story that transcends any one particular conservation story that represents the importance of big beautiful symbols of nature in a larger scale. So what you see with this movie, there is no more magnificent symbol of nature and the importance of living side by side with nature than the Philippine eagle. This is a spectacular bird, and hopefully a spectacular story about the bird and the people that are trying to save it,” said John Fitzpatrick.

Rettig first came to the Philippines in 1977 to film the Philippine eagle in its natural habitat.

He returned more than 30 years after, only to find out that almost 95 percent of the old-growth forest in the Philippines was already logged over.

He expressed alarm as this makes it harder for the Philippine eagle to find a place to nest.

“I was there during the time of the heavy commercial logging and 24/7 there were logging trucks going down the road everyday, and night and so there is no more commercial logging of primary forest and you don’t see the logging trucks anymore but that’s a sign that there’s no forest left, that’s the problem. And that’s sad.”

The Philippine Eagle Foundation helped Rettig and their team in finding the eagle’s nesting sites, and shared their work in the breeding, tracking and protection of the Philippine eagle.

“We’re working to raise awareness, and in the process mobilize resources and develop partnerships and collaborations, among the different organizations and individuals worldwide, but most especially in our home turf so that we can save what’s left of its habitat and their population.”

“Bird of Prey” was already shown in various cities in the U.S.

The Philippine consulate in Vancouver hosted its screening here, in hopes that Canada will join in international efforts to save the Philippine eagle.

“Canada has had very good success in protecting the species that are endemic to them and in fact they have great success in growing the population of the North American bald eagle, their version,” said Consul General Andrelita Austria. “So we are hopeful that with their experience, they can help us and guide us not just in the propagation of the
Birds but the habitat as well, so that means conservation of the tropical forest from economic activity to make it sustainable.

Those who wish to help save the Philippine eagle can donate through the Philippine Eagle Foundation website.

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