A critically endangered Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) returns to its forest home today January 10 as it was freed by personnel from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region IX in Godod, Zamboanga del Norte.
The female Philippine Eagle named Godod (named after the Municipality where it was recovered earlier)soared into the forest canopy to the cheers of onlookers composed of DENR IX officials headed by In Charge Office of the Regional Executive Director and Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Ronald D. Gadot, Liloy CENRO Dionisio Rago, ZDN PENRO representative Almario M. Kaabay Jr., Godod Mayor Abel M. Matildo, Provincial Governor's Executive Assistant Joey Bernard, representatives from the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF), barangay officials, tribal leaders and residents.
Liloy CENRO Dionisio Rago narrates that Godod was retrieved by his personnel from an upland dweller last December in the said municipality. Accordingly, the eagle was caught accidentally in a trap intended for chickens. Thru the efforts of concerned citizens, the information reached his office and he immediately dispatched a team to effect its retrieval.
Godod was subject to physical and medical exam by veterinarians and personnel from the PEF. After declaring the bird fit and healthy, they immediately recommended for its release back into the wild. An intensive information campaign was conducted to community residents to inform them about the importance of the Philippine Eagle and why there is a need to protect it.
ARD Ronald Gadot said that the Philippine Eagle is an indicator species in terms of assessing the richness of biodiversity in an area. As the top predator, it makes its home where food is abundant. Thus, the mountain area in Godod where it resides harbors wildlife such as monkeys, hornbills snakes, flying lemurs, wild pigs, wild cats and a host of others which form a major part of its diet. The close canopy of the dipterocarp forest and its elevation makes it a perfect home for these eagles to thrive.
" There is a need to protect our national bird as it is already declared as critically endangered. In fact, an estimate of more or less 400 individuals exist in the wild. These endemic eagles are vulnerable to hunting, illegal wildlife trade, destruction of habitat to name a few, " Director Gadot added.
Lastly, he appealed for everyone to join hands in helping protect and conserve the Philippine Eagle for the legacy of the next generation.
The different tribal leaders and barangay officials pledged their support to the protection of the eagle Godod as its presence will assure them of national recognition and pride knowing that their place hosts a rare and endangered species.
In Zamboanga Peninsula, DENR IX has documented breeding Philippine Eagles in Baliguian, Zamboanga del Norte, Pasonanca Natural Park in Zamboanga City and in Midsalip, Zamboanga del Sur.