By Antonio L. Colina IV
Davao City – Rather than risk exposing them to the possibility of extinction, Philippine eagles may soon be “loaned out” to other countries “to protect the gene pool against the potential catastrophic events such as natural calamities or disease outbreaks.”
This was disclosed by Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) Executive Director Dennis Salvador who said that the institution was planning to send Philippine eagles under its care to other countries as a “safety net” to ensure the continued existence and propagation of the endangered birds of prey.
The foundation currently has 35 Philippine eagles under its care.
Salvador said that it will technically be a breeding loan program that would allow a host country to “keep and breed” the Philippine eagles to “protect the gene pool against the potential catastrophic events such as natural calamities or disease outbreaks” that can potentially wipe out their population in the wild.
He said they were hoping that the plan will be approved by Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, who already has copies of the necessary documents that included an initial “risk management” proposal submitted by the PEF to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as early as four years ago.
“The issue raised has been with Cimatu. The papers are now at the secretary’s desk and hopefully we can move forward before, God forbid, bird flu reaches us here,” he said.
Through the program, Salvador said the Philippines can rebuild the population of the critically endangered Philippine eagles, a “giant forest raptor endemic to the Philippines,” and is said to be “one of the three largest and most powerful eagles in the world.”
On the Philippine eagles’ adaptive capacity, Salvador explained that “climatic conditions and ability to mimic local conditions will necessarily be part of the pre-conditions in the selection of host countries.”
He said they have already intensified bio-security measures at the center, and human contact has been limited to prevent the birds from getting infected with bird flu.