Boeing South East Asia (SEA), through its president Alexander Feldman, recently turned over $135,000 to support the development of a new breeding facility for the critically endangered Philippine Eagle in Davao City.
The Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF), which runs the Philippine Eagle Center in Barangay Malagos, Davao City launched a campaign to build a separate breeding facility in another location in Barangay Eden to secure its actively breeding birds against events like epidemics and other catastrophes.
Current trends in the spread of avian influenza across the country gave further impetus for this campaign to come to fruition.
With help from the city government of Davao, which allocated 13.40 hectares of land, construction of aviaries and other structures have begun in earnest.
Capital funds direly needed for the construction phase have trickled in from Boeing-SEA, Mandai Wildlife Group, PK Holdings, Ulticon Builders, Maria Mitchell Association, Michelle Hershberger, Animal Behavior & Conservation Connections, International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators, and a host of anonymous individual donations.
Their support helped build the initial infrastructures to facilitate the immediate transfer of some of the breeding birds from the Philippine Eagle Center from Malagos to Eden, also located in Davao City. More structures need to be built to complete the facility.
In a statement, Boeing-SEA president, Alex Feldman, expressed, “Amazement at the majesty and beauty of the Great Philippine Eagle.” Boeing as an aviation company and the Philippine Eagle are natural partners. He expressed support for the work of the PEF, adding he “…looks forward to more collaborative projects in the future.”
The new breeding facility, now named the Philippine Eagle Conservation Breeding Sanctuary, is nestled at the boundaries of the Mt. Apo Natural Park. It is in the final completion phase and will be launched in February next year.
The new breeding facility will be used exclusively for breeding the critically endangered Philippine Eagle and secure this gene pool from stochastic threats. Meanwhile, the Philippine Eagle Center in Malagos will continue to serve as the home for its current animal collection, including aging Philippine Eagles. It will also continue operating as Mindanao’s sole center for wildlife education.
In recent years, breeding eagles in Malagos proved to be difficult primarily due to human disturbance. Increased agriculture-related activities, such as clearing, land preparation, harvesting, hauling, etc., have impacted the species adversely being sensitive to disturbance, especially during breeding season. Even more alarming is the proliferation of poultry and game farms around the center.
These farms pose a clear and present danger to the captive population of Philippine Eagles in the face of epidemiological threats like bird flu. As avian flu can potentially wipe out the entire captive population, representing nearly 8 percent of its global population, prudence dictates that securing the breeding birds to safer havens is the PEF’s only option.
As the time to move some of the eagles draws near, PEF executive director Dennis Salvador conveyed gratitude for Boeing-SEA’s support. “This contribution not only helped us act immediately against a grave threat to our national bird but will, hopefully, accelerate captive breeding success for the species. Boeing has literally given us wings to take Philippine Eagle conservation to a new level.”
Image credits: ACB/PaNP