A photograph posted by the Philippine Eagle Foundation on its social media accounts has attracted a lot of attention online. It shows a mother eagle and her eaglet nesting in the oldest of the five nest trees within Mts. Makabol-Alikoson Conservation Area (MMACA) in Davao City.
According to Dr. Jayson Ibanez, the foundation's Director for Research and Conservation, a pair of Philippine eagles and their eaglets consider the MMACA their exclusive territory. The bird specie is listed as critically endangered in the list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Destroying their territory is equal to endangering the life of this eagle family.
Apparently, there has been a permit issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region XI allowing the cutting of 121 old-growth trees within the MMACA. Thus, an online petition was launched by concerned groups urging the government agency to cancel the said permit.
The groups include the Sustainable Davao Movement, Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability, Ecoteneo, Save Macabol Forest and Watershed, Students' Environmental Alliance of Davao, and Philippine Eagle Foundation. The petition seeks not only to save the Philippine eagle’s nesting area but also secure the community’s lifeblood.
The MMACA is an 8,819-hectare “Conservation Area.” It is an ancient nesting site of the pair of Philippine eagles, whose first nest was recorded by the PEF in 1986. The two have since hatched and raised at least 12 young eagles in five nesting trees within MMACA. But based on Obu Manuvu oral history in Barangay Salaysay, the mighty banog (or Philippine eagle) has always existed in the area.
“Each territorial pair of our national bird is very loyal to the places where they breed,” the petition said. “At each eagle territory, a single chick is carefully raised by its eagle parents once every two years. Eagle nesting sites are crucial areas for reproduction, and for the perpetuation of the species. Maintaining MMACA’s ecological integrity is therefore critical to the survival of our national symbol.”
The petition, signed already by over 3,400 individuals, says MMACA supports the lives and livelihoods of over 6,000 residents of Barangay Salaysay in the uplands of Davao City. These include the indigenous Obu Manuvu.
The conservation groups also pointed out that the natural forests of MMACA replenish the aquifers of Davao City’s Suawan-Kulafu-Sub-Watershed. According to them, the area’s old-growth forest also feeds the Masawang River, an over 10-km waterway that joins the Davao River downstream. “The same forest is also a carbon sink that mitigates global climate changes,” they said.
Aside from the critically endangered Philippine eagle, MMACA is also home to other threatened wildlife species. “For instance, at least 40 species of birds were recorded there, and three are close to extinction, including the IUCN “vulnerable” Southern rufous hornbill and “near-threatened” yellow-crowned flowerpecker. The Philippine deer, and the Philippine warty pig, both IUCN “vulnerable” also inhabit MMACA.”
Photos courtesy of the Philippine Eagle Foundation