PH eagle's death probed
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Wildife authorities are investigating what caused the death of Minalwang, a Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) rehabilitated for two years and released into the wild afterwards.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (DENR-PAWB) on Saturday, October 19, said the eagle was shot dead and asked the public's help in finding the shooter.
Josie de Leon of PAWB said the eagle had two bullet wounds, adding that they are still "gathering information on who might have killed it."
The Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF), the group that nursed Minalwang back to health for two years, said an infection killed Minalwang.
Beauxy Auxtero, communications officer of PEF, would not discuss the cause of the infection or comment on the gunshot wounds.
The male eagle was found on Mt Lumot, Gingoog City in the province of Misamis Oriental. DENR-PAWB said it was found by PEF, after the satellite transmitter meant to determine Minalwang's movements stopped sending feedback.
Auxtero explained that Minalwang was captured by a local resident who has not been placed under arrest. Republic Act No 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act imposes a 6-12-year imprisonment and a P100,000-to P1-million fine for people who kill wildlife species.
It was only last August 15 when Davao-based PEF released Minalwang into Mt Balatukan Range Natural Park in the same city.
Minalwang was named after the village where the Philippine Eagle was rescued two years ago in the town of Claveria, Misamis Oriental.
Minalwang was believed to be less than a year old when it was captured for the first time by another Gingoog resident prior to its two-year rehabilitation.
“This is another blow for us, especially for our conservation program where we have been trying so hard to perpetuate the existence of our haring ibon (Philippine Eagle),” said PAWB Director Theresa Mundita Lim.
The Philippine Eagle is an endangered species. An estimated 500 pairs are out in the wild, while less than 50 are in the custody of the PEF and the DENR for rehabilitation.
The Philippine Eagle is found only in 4 of the Philippines' largest islands – mostly in Mindanao – and grows to a meter with a two-meter wingspan. Its elongated nape feathers form into a shaggy crest.
In 2008, a Mindanao farmer was arrested after he confessed to shooting and eating another male Philippine eagle.
The bird, named Kagsabua, was released on Mount Kitanglad just 4 months earlier by PEF after it was shot and wounded by game-hunters at the Kitanglad range.
Five years later, the case is still on trial. The suspect is temporarily out of jail after posting a P100,000 bail, de Leon said. - Buena Bernal and Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com