The celebration of the World Nature Conservation Day became more meaningful last Tuesday, July 28, when Philippine Eagle named “Makilala Hiraya” was released back to the forests inside the Mount Apo Natural Park in Makilala, Cotabato Province.
“Makilala Hiraya’s rescue and release call for more robust conservation action as the threats to the survival of the King of Philippine forests has yet to be won over,” said Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ assistant secretary for climate change and concurrent Director of Biodiversity Management Bureau Ricardo L. Calderon.
The Philippine Eagle was seen being pursued by large-billed crows last June 7 by residents of Makilala’s Barangay Kisante. Some locals reported that the wearied eagle perched near a house for the night but was found on the ground the next morning.
The eagle was then kept temporarily inside the barangay hall’s prison cell, awaiting response from the DENR’s regional office and the rescue team from the Philippine Eagle Foundation.
The PEF team later determined the eagle to be female, age around 3 to 4 years old. Luckily, she was found to be uninjured and was later confined at the Philippine Eagle Center in Baguio District, Davao City, for nourishment and rehabilitation. She was also tested for the New Castle Disease and Avian Influenza but was found to be negative.
After than a month of rehabilitation and thorough assessment, PEF declared the eagle to be fit for release to the wild.
“Protecting the existing wild population is as significant as breeding the eagle in captivity to add new birds in our forests. There is also an opportunity to discover other Philippine eagles in the area in monitoring this eagle after its release,” said PEF director for research and conservation Dr. Jayson Ibañez
The eagle was christened “Makilala Hiraya” after the municipality where she was located. “Hiraya” comes from an ancient Filipino term that means “fruit of one’s hopes, dreams, and aspirations”. The name was given by PEF conservation partner Energy Development Corporation.
“We continue to work with the PEF and our local governments towards protecting the eagle and its natural habitat by increasing and maintaining forest cover, ” said EDC CSR-PR head Atty. Allan Barcena in a press statement.
Makilala Horaya’s release was streamed live on Facebook, a first for a Philippine Eagle release.
“Amid the grim situation of the pandemic, we hope that freeing this eagle will inspire optimism amongst Filipinos and everyone who will witness the release, ” added PEF executive director Dennis Salvador.
PEF, in collaboration with the DENR, Makilala LGU and EDC, will be monitoring Makilala Hiraya’s movement in the next six months.
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