DENR, Singapore partner formally seal PHL Eagle conservation deal

By Catherine Teves

May 20 2019, 9:57 pm Updated on November 29, 2023, 4:17 am

SINGAPORE-BOUND. Sambisig, a 17-year-old captive-bred female Philippine eagle, is one of the raptors that will be sent to Singapore under the Wildlife Loan Agreement (WLA) between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS). DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu and WRS deputy chief executive officer and chief life sciences officer Dr. Cheng Wen-Haur signed the agreement at the DENR office in Quezon City on Monday (May 20, 2019). Born on November 17, 2002 in Mindanao to parents, Sam and Diamante, the female raptor and her partner, Geothermica, will be staying at the Jurong Bird Park in Singapore. (Photo courtesy of The Philippine Eagle Foundation)

MANILA – The government made history in its bid to prevent extinction of the Philippine Eagle while helping enhance diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Singapore through conservation of the country's endemic but critically endangered national bird.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Monday formalized the wildlife loan agreement on lending a pair of Philippine Eagles to its foreign foreign partner Wildlife Reserves
Singapore (WRS) for conservation-related purposes including breeding in Singapore.

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said the signing of the deal marks "a new chapter in Philippine biodiversity conservation by reaching beyond our borders and cooperating with another sovereign
State, the Republic of Singapore”.

He said lending the pair of Philippine eagles is a biosecurity measure that would ensure “there’ll be Philippine Eagles left in Singapore for breeding there in case catastrophe like avian disease outbreak hits the country and wipes out this species' population here”.

Cimatu reiterated that the DENR is open to the possibility of lending Philippine Eagles for breeding in other countries as well.

The Philippine Eagles (with scientific name 'Pithecophaga jefferyi') are top predators responsible for regulating populations of small animals that may pose danger to humans and crops.

With its dwindling population due to habitat loss and illegal hunting, experts estimate that there are less than 400 pairs left in the wild, according to the DENR.

WRS Deputy CEO and Chief Life Sciences Officer Dr. Cheng Wen-Haur signed the agreement and thanked the Filipinos for entrusting a pair of Philippine Eagles to the WRS.

"It's an honor and privilege to be the first recipient of Philippine Eagles," Cheng said after signing the conservation deal.

He said the agreement will promote long-term partnership on protecting and breeding the Philippine Eagle outside its native country.

"Loan of the eagles this year is especially symbolic as it coincides with the 50th anniversary of friendship between the Philippines and Singapore," he said.

The DENR and Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) Inc. will help WRS care for and breed the pair of Philippine Eagles by providing technical assistance.

The eagles will be on loan for an initial 10 years and there's possibility for renewal of the agreement, according to the DENR.

It clarified the pair and its offspring will still belong to the Philippine government.

The pair of the Philippine eagles will be brought to Singapore from Davao on June 4.

According to the PEF, the eagles will be quarantined for about a month before settling at Singapore's Jurong Bird Park, Asia's largest bird park which offers a 20.2-hectare hillside haven for nearly 3,500 birds of 400 species.

The WRS expects the pair of Philippine Eagles to be a crowd-drawer there.

The 15-year-old Geothermica is a captive-bred male Philippine eagle born to parents Junior and Kahayag in Mindanao on January 7, 2004. (Photo courtesy of The Philippine Eagle Foundation)

The DENR said the pair consists of 15 year-old male eagle Geothermica and 17 year-old female eagle Sambisig.

Both are products of Davao City-based Philippine Eagle Center's conservation breeding program.

Proclamation 615 series of 1995 declared the Philippine Eagle as the country's national bird.

Such eagle's uniqueness, strength, power and love for freedom "exemplifies the Filipino people," according to Proclamation 615. (PNA)