Pair of Philippine Eagle discovered in Zambo Norte-A A +A
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
ILIGAN CITY -- Environment officials in Zamboanga del Norte are eyeing the declaration of a mountain range in the province as protected habitat of the Philippine Eagle after the discovery of a pair of the national bird there on September 9.
Such declaration would ensure the protection and safety of the eagles, said lawyer Liza Jane Estaño, chief of the Provincial Environment Management Office (Pemo), in a news release.
The pair of eagles was sighted in the mountain range of Barangay Linay of Baliguian town, a five-hour drive southwest of the provincial capital Dipolog City. The birds were found mating in a forested area that can be reached after a three-hour hike from town center, said Estaño.
The Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) is a critically endangered species endemic to the tropical forests of the country. Its population has been decimated due to massive deforestation.
The Philippine Wildlife Act provides for measures to protect the remaining population of the national bird as well as other wildlife species.
Estaño said they are also advocating for the provincial legislative board to declare the same mountain range as “Eagle National Park of Zamboanga del Norte” to pump-prime the rehabilitation and development of its natural ecology for the sake of the pair of eagles and other rare and endangered species found therein.
The Linay mountain range hosts a stretch of lush forest that withstood the onslaught of logging activities in the area beginning in the 1960s.
Estaño added that apart from the national bird, there have also been sightings of tarsier, wild pig, and squirrel in the Linay forests.
The presence of the eagles in Baliguian was reported to authorities by Linay village councilman and farmer Fernando Mendoza Sr. who claimed to have first seen the eagles in 2003, related Estaño. Linay locals have since named one of the eagles as Fernando.
Based on Mendoza’s account, the pair managed to produce an eaglet that he no longer saw several years after.
Mendoza, along with son Fernando Jr., guided a team of six people who documented the eagle sighting in the area.
Apart from Estaño, the group also included Al Caabay of the Regional Eagle Watch Team of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Western Mindanao; Levy Lagutin and Von Basil Lambo of Pemo; and local photojournalists Sammy Amatong and Dave Magdayao.
“Early morning of Sept. 9, we waited for the eagles to emerge from the canopy of trees. After three hours, lo and behold, one of the eagles glided toward a fallen tree, then joined shortly by the other one,” Amatong said by phone.
Amatong said it was his first experience of seeing more closely the Philippine eagle in the wild.
Using telescopes, the team also traced the eagles toward their nest. And judging from their behavior that day, the team supposed that the eagles were mating, said Estaño.
Amatong related that during their day-long watch of the eagles on that sunny day, they were treated to varying “magnificent sights” of an eagle in flight. These include “aerial courtship display” over a forested ridge; a “mutual soaring display” and “flight of romance” before they flew back to the tree where they nested.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 25, 2013.