Philippine Eagle Finds New Hope in Australia’s Arboretum Programme

The population of the Philippine eagle is expected to increase with the Australian government's funding.
The population of the Philippine eagle is expected to increase with the Australian government's funding. (Constantine Agustin/WikimediaCommons)

The Australian government would help protect the Philippine eagle, including its habitat through a funded programme.

Significant Endeavour to Save the Philippine Eagle

Australian envoy to the Philippines, Hae Kyong Yu chaired the Australian government-funded program to protect the Philippine eagle. They launched the program in Burauen, Leyte, planting trees at the future site of a botanical garden or so-called arboretum in the Burauen campus of the Eastern Visayas State University.

Since 2018, there has been a plan to release the national bird in Kagbana. It’s an upland village about 29 kilometres from the town proper. Soon there would be an extension and research program in the village with preparatory activities the Australian government will finance.

In the same year, the Conservation and Development Division (CDD) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said they checked the studied nests of an eagle in the village’s forested area, including its neighbouring San Vicente village in McArthur.

Most of the villagers had been trained under the Philippine Eagle Foundation to become forest guards to watch and protect the Philippine eagle when it’s released next year.

“We hope that we can work together to ensure that Leyte has the beautiful Philippine eagles flying through the skies, and we hope that the trees we planted today — which I understand are also endangered species but the trees that the Philippine Eagle really enjoys — that we hope one day these trees will be big enough and there will be enough Philippine Eagles flying in the sky and making use of this good trees that we planted today,” Yu said.

Multimillion Dollar Fund to Save the National Bird

The Australian government works with the Philippine Eagle Foundation and funds the research and activities with a $90 million budget this year.

“In the past five years, the Australian embassy has supported preparatory activities for the future release of eagles in Leyte. They have assisted us in our community forest guard program and livelihood activities,” said Jayson Ibanez, Philippine Eagle Foundation director for research and conservation.

The Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) is the ultimate forest bird of prey in the country as well as the national bird. Also known as the ”monkey-eating eagle,” this elusive bird can be found on the four islands of the Philippines – Luzon, Leyte, Mindanao, and Samar. Likewise, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed them as critically endangered, with only 400 pairs left roaming in the wild.

This magnificent Philippine raptor has the broadest wingspan (7 feet) among the birds of prey. Its blue-grey eyes can see eight times clearer than human eyes. This eagle stands 3 feet high from the tip of its crown feathers to its tail.

Deforestation and shooting are the main reasons for its population decline. Thanks to the collaboration of the Philippine Eagle Foundation with the Australian government, the national bird population will soon increase.