By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
A pair of male and female Philippine eagles named “Geothermica” and “Sambisig,” respectively, will be transported to Singapore on June 4 for the conservation of the critically endangered species.
A memorandum of agreement was signed between the Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) over the loan of the pair of Philippine eagles. The signing of the 10-year renewable agreement highlights the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Philippines-Singapore Friendship Day.
DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said Geothermica and Sambisig will play a crucial role as ambassadors for Philippine biodiversity once they are taken to Jurong Bird Park on June 4. The park is being operated by WRS.
“Sending Geothermica and Sambisig to Singapore acts as a biosecurity measure to ensure the survival of the species and as a fallback population in the event of catastrophic events like disease outbreaks or extreme natural calamities taking place in their Philippine habitats,” Cimatu said.
DENR will loan captive-bred Geothermica and Sambisig, aged 15 and 17 years old, respectively, from the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City for conservation breeding and public education to promote global support for its conservation.
The pair of eagles will be placed in a realistic setting at the 20.2-hectare Jurong Bird Park, Asia’s largest bird park that is home to close to 3,500 birds across 400 species, of which 20 percent is threatened.
In the Philippines, wild population of the species remains uncertain with an estimated number of less than 400 pairs, mainly due to hunting and forest habitat loss.
DENR considers the Philippine eagle as among its priority threatened species for conservation.
DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau Director Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez pointed out that because of its small population, the Philippine eagle is vulnerable to impacts of environmental conditions, such as natural calamities and outbreak of disease.
WRS deputy chief executive officer and chief life sciences officer Cheng Wen-Haur expressed his gratitude in the Philippine government for trusting their institution in taking care of the two raptors.
“We are honored by the trust that the Philippine government has placed in us to care for the country’s national bird.
As a conservation-minded wildlife organization, there is a strong synergy between our focus on protecting animals – particularly threatened Southeast Asian species – and the Philippine Eagle Foundation’s mission to promote the survival of a truly majestic raptor and the biodiversity it represents,” Wen Haur said.
“Together, we can actively contribute in greater capacity to raise awareness of the threats that the wild cousins of these eagles face in the wild, even as we continue the work of breeding to fight extinction,” he added.
The signing was witnessed by Ambassador of the Republic of Singapore to the Republic of the Philippines Gerard Ho Wei Hong and Ambassador of the Republic of the Philippines to the Republic of Singapore Joseph del Mar Yap.