THE Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) has relocated breeding eagles to the new National Bird Breeding Sanctuary in Barangay Eden, Toril, Davao City, citing concerns over bird flu and increasing human settlements at the previous center.
Dennis Salvador, PEF director, told media on Monday morning, February 12, 2024, that the move was prompted by the bird flu outbreak in Mindanao, coupled with the risk of development near Malagos.
“Especially with the flourishing of game fowl farms, poultry farms in the surrounding areas which puts the population of eagles at great risk and so they allowed us, the city government allowed us to move in here to build a facility for the breeding eagles,” he said.
The transfer ensures the safety of the eagles from Avian Influenza (bird flu), which has been known to devastate bird populations.
Given the proximity of the Malagos Center to the site of the March 2022 bird flu outbreak in Magsaysay town, which was just 90 kilometers away, the safety of the 32 eagles at the center is a significant concern.
These eagles represent five percent of the total estimated global population of the Philippine Eagle, with only 392 pairs remaining in the country.
Salvador noted that there are pending arrangements with the Local Government Unit (LGU), including road access to the sanctuary and approval of the usufruct agreement by the 20th city council.
Two pairs, Matatag and Ariela, and Balikatan and Bangsa Bae, are scheduled for transfer to the sanctuary on February 13, 2024, and will be housed in a 40-foot-tall breeding chamber.
In contrast to the Malagos Center, the sanctuary is not open to the public. It is secured with signages, and fencing, and patrolled by about 20 Bantay Bukid volunteers from the Bagobo-Tagabawa Tribe of Toril.
The frequency of patrols is pending approval, with a request for additional Bantay Bukid members and the possibility of 24/7 patrols.
Jayson Ibañez, director for research and Conservation at PEF, said that the Bantay Bukid is required to make patrols 10 days per month.
“We have a pending request sa ating Public Safety and Security Office (PSSO) for allocating well one additional Bantay Bukid members and then yung frequency ng patrols if possible yung nga 24/7 so mas maraming frequency (We have a pending request to the Public Safety and Security Office (PSSO) to allocate one additional member of the Bantay Bukid so the patrols would be frequent and if possible it could be 24/7),” Ibañez said.
Additionally, the barangays have passed a resolution establishing a one-kilometer buffer zone in the area. They will deploy barangay tanods for patrols. Salvador mentioned that the city will soon support this measure by reinforcing it with a city ordinance.
Domingo Tadena, a consultant to PEF's conservation-breeding program, highlighted the improved environment in Eden, emphasizing the cooler, quieter, and more extensive area compared to Malagos.
“We will see the effect after one or two breeding seasons but I can tell that it is much better than the facility or in terms of breeding in Malagos," he said.
PEF clarified that the Malagos Center will remain operational, serving as a home for retired eagles and around 1,000 endemic animals.
Once all breeding eagles are moved to the sanctuary, the center will transform into an educational and eco-cultural tourism facility.
The 105-hectare Eden Tourism Reservation Area, awarded to the City Government of Davao, will host the sanctuary, using 8.16 hectares as a forest buffer and 5.3 hectares for the core facility.
The sanctuary can house approximately 35 eagles. RGP