Philippine Eagle Center in Davao mulls relocation to protect birds from avian flu


Posted at May 31 2022 07:22 PM

 Photo courtesy of the Philippine Eagle Foundation
Photo courtesy of the Philippine Eagle Foundation

DAVAO CITY — The Philippine Eagle Foundation said on Monday that it is eyeing to transfer its center to a new and bigger location here, a move to protect the critically-endangered national birds from diseases and infections such as the avian flu.

Andi Baldonado, PEF development manager, said they have identified the 50-hectare city government-owned land in Barangay Eden as the new home of the Philippine Eagle. The area is larger compared to the current 8.4 hectares land in Barangay Malagos.

"Sa Malagos kasi, there are more and more game farms around the center. Meaning, marami nang mga manok at kung anu-anong mga other animals that are within the residence of the area. So, this makes the Malagos area susceptible to an infection. Hindi na po talaga siya ideal for long-term plans ng Philippine eagle conservation like breeding," she said.

The eagles are exposed to farm and residential activities around the area since its existing location has no buffer area.

At the height of the detection of Avian Influenza H5N1 cases in some parts of Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato, and Davao del Sur last April, PEF intensified its biosecurity measures.

Only the keepers were allowed to access the Philippine eagle and they go through strict measures such as showering and changing scrubs, whenever they come in contact with the eagles.

A one-day closure was also implemented in April during the simulation activity to prepare for possible lockdown if a bird flu case is detected in Davao City.

"A single case of avian flu in the center can potentially wipe out all 34 Philippine Eagles that we have right now. That's why we have been staying on standby for a possible lockdown again if ever there's a case that will be detected in Davao City because we cannot risk having avian flu in the only captive breeding facility for the Philippine Eagle," Baldonado said.

However, PEF needs P56 million for the new Philippine Eagle site to develop enclosures, hospitals for philippine eagle, and others.

"We hope to get support from the government. But other than that, we are also going to engage our corporate partners, donors. So we will do a fundraising drive talaga for this kasi it's a very big amount of money," Baldonado said.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine Eagle Center was able to rescue 12 injured and found eagles.

The PEF is preparing for the Philippine Eagle Week on June 4 to 10, which is a nationwide celebration in commemoration of the conservation of the national bird.

The foundation will conduct an exhibit in a mall in Davao City and will intensify their campaign on the protection of the bird.

The Philippine Eagle is threatened, among others, by deforestation, hunting, and shooting.

"Even if we continue to release eagles, we find that they are still continually being trapped or shot. Actually, 1 in every 3 birds that are admitted in the center has a gunshot wound or mayroong pellet embedded in its body," Baldonado said.

The Philippine Eagle is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with an estimated number of only 400 pairs left in the wild.

- report from Hernel Tocmo


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