SAVING PH EAGLES. Dr. Bob Kennedy, a renowned ornithologist and conservationist, leads the launch of 'AgiLaya', a campaign for the conservation of the Philippine Eagle, on Thursday (Aug. 11, 2022) at the Caraga State University in Butuan City. With the support of the Philippine Eagle Foundation, the initiative aims to raise public awareness on Philippine Eagle conservation. (PNA photo by Alexander Lopez)

BUTUAN CITY – The conservation campaign for the Philippine Eagle kicked off in the Caraga Region with renowned ornithologist and conservation champion Dr. Bob Kennedy.

“Charismatic campaign pilots can inspire citizens to participate,” the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) said in a statement Friday.

The “AgiLaya” campaign launched Thursday at the Caraga State University (CSU) with Kennedy leading the activity together with PEF representatives.

“AgiLaya” aims to move the public to participate in the conservation movement through dialogues led by expert ornithologists and conservationists.

The campaign coincided with Kennedy's 50th-anniversary return to the Philippines.

Kennedy helped establish the conservation program that paved the way for the founding of the PEF after his first visit 50 years ago when he started as peace corps environmental program volunteer.

PEF described Caraga as a perfect area for the campaign's kickoff because of the region's rich biodiversity, whose forests have been known to be inhabited by a good number of Philippine Eagles.

“During the pandemic, two eagles were rescued in the entire region, the first was in Bacuag, Surigao del Norte in August 2020 and in Lingig, Surigao del Sur in May 2021,” PEF noted.

The captured eagle in Bacuag is named “Balikatan,” which has not yet been released due to damage in his right eye. The other eagle in Lingig called “Rajah Cabungsuan” was freed back to the forest last year.

Dr. Rowena Varela, CSU vice president for research, innovation, and extension, assured the university will be at the forefront of raising awareness about the national bird’s conservation.

“For the past years, we have worked with the preservation of habitat, and we haven’t had direct projects on the conservation of the Philippine eagle before,” Varela said.

Through the partnership with PEF and other support groups, Varela said the CSU will come up with education campaigns and programs for the preservation and conservation of the Philippine eagle.

Kennedy’s 17-day visit to the Philippines started on August 2. He is set to return to the United States on August 19. (PNA)