Save our eagles! Save our national symbol!

Press Statement – 27 April 2011
Philippine Eagle Foundation

Four Eagles in Five Months:
A Statement of Alarm Over the Rate of Eagle Retrievals

The Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) expresses alarm over the spate of captures of Philippine Eagles in the last five months. The PEF team has retrieved four Philippine Eagles since December 2010, making up one of the highest rate of retrievals since the year 2000. More alarming is that two of these four eagles were rescued with serious injuries, and that a third eventually died from fungal infection.

Philippine Eagle

In December 2010, the PEF rescued a female eagle estimated to be about 5-6 years old in Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte. The eagle was missing two out of three toes on her right foot.

A month after, on 31 January 2011, DENR – Region 11 personnel turned over a one-year-old male eagle which originated from Sitio Biasong, Don Salvador, Mati, Davao Oriental. Details are still sketchy about the history of the bird.

Then on 4 April, a juvenile Philippine Eagle was retrieved from Sen. Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat. PEF staff believe that the eagle had already been held captive for over a month by the time it was in PEF custody. It was to be released back to the wild, but the bird died on the 24th of the same month, from stress leading to multiple organ failure due to extensive fungal infection.

Finally, on 19 April 2011, an eagle about a year old was brought to the Philippine Eagle Center by residents of Sitio Biha, Bgy. Tambobong, Baguio District, Davao City. Only two primary feathers remained on its right wing.

What we gather from this wave of retrievals is that:

  • The eagles continue to be harmed and poached. We have no doubt that the Sibuco eagle’s missing toes and the Tambobong eagle’s missing wing feathers were injuries inflicted by humans. Without the ability to grab prey or fly, the chances of survival in the wild for these eagles are practically zero.
  • The eagles are being taken away from their natural habitats. The best place for an eagle is still the forest. Many of the eagles we retrieved were reported or brought to us by individuals or groups who had good intentions for the birds. We appreciate their concern. However, this concern often translates to the incorrect thinking that we should “care” for the eagle by taking it and keeping it in human care. What has been happening is that the eagles, although perfectly healthy when they were found, instead suffer major injuries during the untrained and unauthorized “rescue” attempts of even the most well-meaning of individuals. Eagles who have been held captive also get stressed, acquire diseases, and develop abnormal behaviors (such as becoming imprinted to humans) while they are in human custody. A fungal infection, like the one that killed the Sultan Kudarat eagle, takes months to develop and is closely associated with human activity. Thus, we believe that the eagle had been kept captive for a very long time.
  • People have brought Philippine Eagles to us and the DENR, expecting incentives or rewards for their effort, as if to make the retrieval and transport of eagles away from their natural habitats seem like a profitable venture. It is not. What we reward instead are nest-finders — individuals and communities who provide us with information about active nests, breeding eagles, and/or newborn chicks. Communities hosting these eagle nests are rewarded at each milestone showing that the eagle family is thriving (new egg, new chick, etc.). What we want to reward are human actions that ensure the eagles flourish in their natural habitats.

We are extremely distressed about these events. We call on all local government units and the media to advise their constituencies on the appropriate response when a Philippine Eagle is found. The PEF offers the following guidelines:

  • Observe the Wildlife Resources and Conservation and Protection Act (R.A. 9147) at all times. The law prohibits the killing, collection, possession, and maltreatment of wildlife, their by-products, and derivatives, as well as activities which threaten critical habitats such as dumping of waste, burning, logging, quarrying, and mineral exploration and extraction.
  • Never touch or approach the eagle. It could harm you as much as you could harm it. Never approach its nest, eggs, or chicks, as the eagle could be threatened by you and attack.
  • Just observe the bird. Take note of any apparent injuries. Take photos if cameras are available.
  • Always call the authorities. Only the Philippine Eagle Foundation and the DENR are authorized to intervene and coordinate a rescue and retrieval operation if any Philippine Eagle is in imminent danger.

Further, we call on the Philippine government and its law enforcement and judicial agencies for stronger enforcement of Republic Act 9147. Crimes committed against nature have effects of a much bigger impact than we can imagine (deforestation; the landslide of Guinsaugon, Leyte) and can reach generations beyond our own (global warming).

Philippine Eagle

The Philippine Eagle is important not just because it is our national bird and therefore a symbol of our country, but more so because the abuse and harm caused on Philippine Eagles illustrate our recklessness in managing our natural resources. If the Philippine Eagle, which is already perhaps the most prominent and recognizable of Philippine wildlife species, suffers a fate as grim as the above four eagles have experienced, how much more other species?

What bigger injustices could possibly be happening to the rest of the Philippine environment?

We condemn these acts of violence against nature and call on our fellow Filipinos to adopt more sustainable paths towards progress. Our economy is built on natural resources — the indiscriminate killing and plunder of these resources is not development. This will only bring us several steps backward.

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For more information, and to find out how you can help, please contact:

Philippine Eagle Foundation
Ms Tatit Quiblat
Manager for Development, Philippine Eagle Foundation
Mobile: +63(917)712-2895 • Email

Philippine Eagle Foundation
Malagos, Baguio District, Davao City
Tel. +63(82)271-2337 • Fax +63(82)301-1033 • Email

* Philippine eagle photos by, and used with permission from, Alain B. Pascua.

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