PH eagle wounded by hunters dies at wildlife center
KIDAPAWAN CITY—A Philippine eagle, which was shot and wounded by hunters with air guns in a remote village in North Cotabato province, died hours after it was turned over to a wildlife foundation in Davao City, environment officials announced on Monday.
Personnel of the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) found three air gun pellets in the bird’s body, said Andrew Patricio, North Cotabato environment and natural resources officer.
The Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) is considered an endangered species because of its rapidly declining population. At least 400 pairs remain in the wild, according to estimates from both the government and private conservation groups.
The law prohibits the hunting of the bird, once described by famous aviator-conservationist Charles Lindbergh as the “world’s noblest flier,” but hunters, particularly those belonging to indigenous communities, continue to target it for its meat.
Farmer Joven Amacin found the wounded eagle a week ago when it suddenly dropped into his compound after flying over Sitio Lubas, Barangay Amabel in Magpet town, North Cotabato. He informed police about it and the latter contacted the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for its proper treatment and care.
“Its wounds might have come from an air gun normally used by hunters in the area,” Senior Insp. Reilan Mamon, Magpet police chief, quoted Amacin as saying when he handed over the bird to the police office on Saturday. The farmer could not say who shot the bird.
Rorie Politud, who works for Magpet Vice Mayor Efren Piñol, said the eagle was turned over to the DENR on Thursday. It was about 6 years old and weighed at least 5 kilograms, but was weakened by its wounds, Politud said.
“No one could just touch it. It was ready to attack each time somebody attempted to touch it,” he said.
Piñol said he was told the bird would be kept at the North Cotabato provincial veterinary office during its recovery before it would be released back to the wild.
“We are very sad the eagle died,” Patricio said. He said the wounded bird’s condition might have deteriorated while it was being taken care of by its finder for several days.
Following the incident, Magpet officials have appealed to hunters to spare the endangered birds.
“Save, don’t shoot, the eagle if you seen them in your communities or simply just allow them to fly in our thick forests,” Piñol told residents of villages at the foot of Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak and natural habitat of the Philippine eagle.
Last year, a local court ordered an indigenous farmer, Bryan Bala-on, of Impasugong town, Bukidnon province, to pay a P100,000 fine after he admitted to killing and cooking a juvenile Philippine eagle named Kasagbua, which was released back to the wild by the PEF in 2008. It was the first criminal case filed in connection with the killing of a Philippine eagle.
Under the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act (Republic Act No. 9147), killing a critically endangered species is punishable by imprisonment of six to 12 years and/or a fine of P100,000 to P1 million.
“We proved our case, we won the battle. But the war against people who commit crimes against nature continues,” Dennis Salvador, PEF director, said, following the promulgation of the sentence. With a report from Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao
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