Sav­ing the ea­gle

Cen­tre seeks more space to save mon­key- eat­ing Philip­pine ea­gle.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ECOWATCH -

A PHILIP­PINE breed­ing cen­tre try­ing to save the coun­try’s crit­i­cally en­dan­gered mon­key- eat­ing ea­gle has been so suc­cess­ful it is now scram­bling for space.

An­other ea­glet was hatched re­cently, the se­cond in barely three months, help­ing the gi­ant bird’s fight against ex­tinc­tion.

The chick, born from the nat­u­ral mat­ing of two birds at the Philip­pine Ea­gle Foun­da­tion, is the 27th born in cap­tiv­ity.

“The cen­tre is at full ca­pac­ity. We are full. If there are any new ad­mis­sions, we will have to move the birds to smaller en­clo­sures,” said cu­ra­tor Anna Mae Su­maya.

The new chick, hatched on Feb 4, is the 35th ea­gle at the cen­tre, join­ing 19 other cap­tive- bred birds and 15 res­cued from the wild. The seven other ea­gles born in cap­tiv­ity have ei­ther been re­leased into the wild or died.

Su­maya de­scribed the new chick as “ac­tive and alert as it can al­ready lift its head, sit and fol­low ob­jects even at a day old.”

But the breed­ing cen­tre on the out­skirts of Davao city on the coun­try’s south­ern- most is­land of Min­danao cov­ers just 8ha.

“If we could have a lot of space, we could pair off a lot more birds,” said Su­maya, stress­ing that breed­ing pairs needed more space.

The mon­key- eat­ing ea­gle, also known as the Philip­pine ea­gle, is found only in the rapidly van­ish­ing trop­i­cal rain forests of the Philip­pines. The me­tre- long rap­tor gets its name from its diet of macaque mon­keys and other small an­i­mals that share its habi­tat in Min­danao.

The bird is famed for its elon­gated nape feath­ers that form into a shaggy crest. Its 2m wing span makes it one of the world’s largest ea­gles. The rap­tor is found nowhere ex­cept the Philip­pines, where it is the coun­try’s na­tional bird. There are about 600 mon­key- eat­ing ea­gles in the wild.

The Swiss- based In­ter­na­tional Union for the Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture lists the mon­key- eat­ing ea­gle as “crit­i­cally en­dan­gered” due to hunt­ing and the de­ple­tion of its habi­tat.

Gun­shots ac­count for nine in ev­ery 10 Philip­pine ea­gle ca­su­al­ties, ac­cord­ing to the foun­da­tion, which has also warned it was run­ning out of safe places to re­lease the cap­tive- bred birds when they ma­ture. The monog­a­mous ea­gles breed only once a year, with each pair pro­duc­ing only one egg ev­ery mat­ing sea­son. – AFP

A res­cued mon­key- eat­ing ea­gle in an en­clo­sure at the Philip­pine Ea­gle cen­tre in Davao, Min­danao.

A three- day old Philip­pine ea­gle hatch­ling, born in cap­tiv­ity at the cen­tre, is boost­ing the crit­i­cally- en­dan­gered species’ num­bers. — Pho­tos: AFP

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