LUPON, Davao Oriental – A family of the critically endangered Philippine eagle has recently been spotted in the forests of Lupon, Davao Oriental.
Official photographer of the Provincial Information Office, Eden Jhan Licayan, who took the photos and some video footage of the rare sightings, said he spotted a total of three Philippine eagles during the assessment of potential tourism sites in the area on December 7-10.
Licayan said he first spotted a young Philippine eagle perched on a tree near its nest while emitting a powerful call.
The following day, he and his team were surprised to spot two more eagles flying over the forest canopy, which were much bigger than the first one they sighted.
The Philippine Eagle Foundation’s head for research and development, Jason Ibañez, confirmed that the sighted birds were indeed Philippine eagles.
“The photos are indeed those of a Philippine eagle. And based on the general appearance and nature of its feathers, the bird at perch is a juvenile (around one-year-old) Philippine eagle,” Ibañez said. “The presence of a juvenile means there are eagle parents and the photos of two flying eagles are possibly the eagle couple. An expedition next year to further document the eagle pair and their young is highly recommended.”
Based on where the photos were taken, he said, the eagle family is within the Mount Kampalili - Puting Bato key biodiversity area of Davao Oriental, which is one of the few large habitats of Philippine eagles in Mindanao.
Davao Oriental is known to host a good population of Philippine eagles, including the rescued Mal’lambugok who was released in Caraga municipality last September.
The Philippine Eagle Foundation has expressed hope that the local government and concerned stakeholders would work together to heighten the locals’ awareness of the preservation of the health of the forests and the conservation of these majestic eagles.
Governor Nelson Dayanghirang assured that the provincial government and the local government of Lupon would implement programs to ensure that these incredible creatures are protected.
Conserving nature, preserving peace
The provincial government is currently looking at eco-tourism as a way of preserving natural resources and promoting community stewardship and management of these highly valued resources while providing locals with alternative livelihood, thus, promoting peace in the community.
With the presence of the Philippine eagle in the area, as well as many other bird species, the provincial government sees the area’s potential for bird watching, which has both economic and conservation potential.
The recent conduct of tourism potentials assessment in the area was part of the provincial government’s localized implementation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 70 or the Whole-of-Nation Approach to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC).
Through the program, which aims to help uplift the lives of the people, development projects, such as livelihood and infrastructures, among many other interventions, are being introduced in the communities, mostly in hinterland villages that are known to be vulnerable to armed conflict and formerly used as guerrilla bases of the communist-terrorist New People’s Army (NPA).
“It’s like hitting two birds with one stone,” Provincial Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict vice chairman, Ednar Dayanghirang, said.
Dayanghirang noted that the program would not only help people become more responsible for their forests but would also introduce economic opportunities to end the cycle of poverty.
This, he said, would end NPA recruitment as the people would become more focused on their new livelihood and conservation efforts. (Karen Lou Deloso/Davao Oriental PIO)