Editorial: Struggling endemic species

File photo

FOR the Philippine Eagle to be off the critically endangered list of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) there needs to be 1,000 pairs in the wild.

However, according to Philippine Eagle Foundation there are only around 400 documented pairs in the wild. According to the IUCN Red List, the population of one of the world's largest eagles is decreasing due to deforestation, mining, pollution, and climate change.

Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) executive director Dennis Joseph I. Salvador said a lot of work has yet to be done to uplift the status of this magnificent bird despite its recent success in its captive breeding programs.

"We are doing captive breeding programs - natural and artificial - to supplement the eagles' losses in the wild but we can't cope with the net loss," he said.

Among their programs is the Cooperative Artificial Insemination (CAI), a breeding process involving the collection of semen from male eagles and implanting them into female eagles, a scientific way of increasing the bird's diminishing population. The foundation has produced 28 eagles through its captive breeding program since Pag-asa, the first successful captive-bred Philippine Eagle.

PEF is a non-profit organization doing several conservation efforts for the Philippine Eagle. Currently, 32 eagles are under its care.

One of the natural breeding challenges, Salvador said, is many of the pairs are getting old, thus very low reproduction. He also noted that pairing new eagles takes time to bond and mature.

The Philippine Eagle is not the only animal in the country that is facing extinction. For a country that has been recognized as a mega-diverse country, which means it is a biodiversity rich country, there are nearly 50 endemic species that are listed as critically endangered. Among these animals are the Rufous-headed hornbill, tamaraw, Philippine cockatoo, Philippine Crocodile, Philippine bare-backed fruit bat, all bleeding-heart pigeon species endemic to the Philippines, and the Visayan warty pig.

The Philippine Eagle is lucky enough to have PEF and the Philippine Eagle Center. However, the other critically endangered species in the country are not so lucky to have an organization or institution that will help them.

Maybe it is time for the government to establish a bureau or center that will truly look into the state of these critically endangered endemic species.

Let us not wait for these animals’ status be changed to "extinct in the wild" before we act on helping them.


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