July 16, 2024

■  Ofelia C. Empian 

The Philippine eagle is not only found in Apayao but also in other provinces in the Cordillera, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

DENR-Cordillera Executive Director Paquito Moreno, Jr. said the agency has received reports of the sightings of the Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) in Barlig, Mountain Province and in Abra.  

“There are anecdotal accounts of the sighting of these birds, hence, we are widening our tracking not only in Apayao but also elsewhere in the region,” Moreno said.

The recently released Philippine eagle named Nariha Kabugao in Apayao is continuously being monitored by the agency and the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) in partnership with the provincial government.

Nariha was rescued on March 19 by a resident in Barangay Bulu, Kabugao.

The raptor was found with air gun pellets on its skin, indicating that it had been shot several times in the past.

The four-year-old female eagle was released in the forest of Kabugao on April 12, with a GPS tracker to monitor its movements and potential nesting sites.

DENR-Cordillera is working with the Apayao government and the PEF for the eagle’s conservation. 

Moreno has reminded the public not to harm the critically-endangered eagle, but to work with the agency in protecting it and in forest conservation for the bird to thrive.

Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protect Act and Presidential Decree 705 or the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines, prohibit the gathering and destruction of wildlife resources. 

The PEF reported the Philippine eagle is one of the rarest and most powerful eagles in the world, which can only be seen on four islands in the country: Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao.

They are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature with an estimated number of only 400 pairs left in the wild.

Moreno said the presence of the Philippine eagle in Apayao is a strong boost in the province’s bid to become a Unesco Biosphere Reserve. 

The province is currently working to be declared as the fourth Unesco Biosphere Reserve of the Philippines, along with Puerto Galera (designated in 1977), Palawan (designated in 1990), and Albay (designated in 2016).