DAVAO CITY—After a successful Philippine eagle captive breeding program that spanned two decades, the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) on Saturday announced that it has successfully bred and hatched another threatened species of bird of prey.
Dennis Salvador, the PEF director, said the first Pinsker’s hawk-eagle (Nisaetus pinskeri) bred in captivity broke its shell on April 2 at the PEF Center in Malagos village in Calinan district here.
The Pinsker’s hawk-eagle is endemic to the Philippines and known to thrive in the subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest. It belongs to the Acciptridae family and is considered threatened because of the loss of its natural habitat.
Salvador said the first Pinsker’s hawk-eagle bred in captivity was the product of a natural pair. It weighed a mere 57.2 grams.
“We have to carefully and constantly monitor the chick and make notes on its progress since it is the first Pinsker’s hawk-eagle hatched under our breeding program,” Salvador said.
Salvador said ensuring the Pinsker’s hawk-eagle’s survival in the wild is a real challenge especially with the “fast diminishing forests and destruction of their habitats.”
“We need everyone’s contribution to ensure that the Pinsker’s hawk-eagle population will increase, especially in the wild,” Salvador added.
The PEF, a nonprofit, nongovernment organization focused on saving the Philippine eagle and its habitat, made a breakthrough in January 1992 with the birth of Pag-asa, the first Philippine eagle bred and hatched in captivity and conceived through artificial insemination.
The successful hatching was the result of 10 years of research and experimentation on the country’s national bird in an effort to beef up the dwindling eagle population in the country.
Before Pag-asa, only 37 eagles had been identified to exist in the Philippines—13 in captivity and 24 associated with wild nests.
The PEF has successfully bred over 20 eagles since then.
In April 2004, Kabayan, a product of artificial insemination, became the first captive-bred eagle to be released to the wild. He was, however, found dead nine months later after he perched on a high-voltage power line and was electrocuted.
Hatched in 2002, Kabayan’s release was part of a reintroduction program to augment eagle populations in the wild, according to the PEF.
The Philippine eagle is a 3-foot-tall rainforest raptor with a wingspan of 7 feet—the broadest in the world. Deforestation and hunting have threatened its survival.
As of 2011, PEF estimates that there are some 400 pairs of these eagles in the islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao. Thirty-six eagles, 18 of them bred in captivity, are housed at the PEF Center.
Besides the Philippine eagle, another threatened and endangered bird was successfully bred and hatched in captivity in the country.
A Philippine eagle-owl, which is endemic to the country, was hatched in Negros Occidental in November 2005, the first time a bird of that species was successfully hatched in captivity, according to the Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation Inc.
Salvador said they hoped to replicate the success of their Philippine eagle breeding program in the newly conceived Pinsker’s hawk-eagle breeding program.
“Hopefully, it will survive and we will be able to improve our breeding techniques of this species through this experience,” he said, referring to the recently hatched chick.
Salvador said the gender of the chick would be known four to five years from now, the period within which Pinsker’s hawk-eagles mature.
The parents of the chick Pinsker’s hawk-eagle are male Gino, which was captured in Mlang, and a female code-named FAMSG, which was captured in Maguindanao. With a report from Roli Pinsoy, Inquirer Mindanao, and Inquirer Research