Thursday, June 30, 2016

Saving eagles, protecting forests

by Jonathan L. Mayuga - June 25, 2016 [ ]

AS part of its ongoing conservation program, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB) continues to monitor and record sightings of the Philippine Eagle.

“Sightings of the eagle increase as we expand the areas we are monitoring. We would like to think that the population, too, is increasing, because of the increase in reported sightings as we expand our coverage,” said DENR-BMB Director Theresa Mundita S. Lim. Hunting for food and trophy, and the fragmentation of natural forest, she said, remain as the biggest threats to all wildlife.

“If forested areas are disturbed by human activities, such as agriculture or mining, the eagles are forced to leave and find other areas where they can find food. As they fly in other areas to find a suitable habitat, they are exposed to risks of being shot by hunters or captured,” she said.

From 2010 to 2015, the DENR has recorded sightings of Philippine Eagle, including nests in various parts of Mindanao, Luzon and the Visayas, particularly in Samar and Leyte. From 2010 to 2013, there were only 29 recorded sightings but in 2014 sightings of the Philippine eagle increased to 40. In 2015 the DENR-BMB recorded a total of 47 sightings. The reports came from the DENR’s partners, such as the Haribon Foundation and Regional Eagle Watch Teams, which are tasked to monitor and record sightings of the Philippine Eagle.

The bulk of the Philippine Eagle population, Lim said, is in Mindanao, particularly in Northern Mindanao, where increased sightings of the rare eagle, including nests outside declared protected areas, had been recently observed.

Captive breeding

Besides breeding in the wild, protecting the eagles and their nests, efforts to conserve the Philippine Eagle are also anchored on a captive-breeding program.

The Philippines boast of a successful captive-breeding program. The Philippine Eagle Foundation, a not-for-profit nongovernmental organization, in partnership with the DENR, had produced a total of 27 eagles bred in captivity since 1991.

The eggs were produced either through natural pairing or cooperative artificial insemination. Three of the eagles have been successfully released into the wild. However, the DENR’s record showed that two of them had died, while another was recaptured.
“Kabayan,” the first eagle bred in captivity that was released into the wild on April 22, 2004 at the Philippine National Oil Geothermal Reservation within the Mount Apo National Park in Kidapawan City, accidentally died of electrocution on January 8, 2005.”

Another eagle, “Hineleban” was released on October 29, 2009, at the Mount Kitanglad Range Natural Park in Sumilao, Bukidnon. It was believed to have been killed on November 30, 2009, after the radio transmitter stopped transmitting a signal.

What is believed to be the remains of the eagle were discovered on January 15, 2010, in Barangay Lupiagan in Bukidnon.

The third eagle, Chick No. 23, was recaptured and is undergoing rehabilitation. Kikko Kalabud, communication officer of the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF), said the group is currently monitoring two eagles that the foundation released—one in Bukidnon and the other one in Apayao. So far, he said, the eagles are doing well. Five of the eagles released into the wild were killed by hunters, Kalabud said.

Currently, the PEF has in its custody a total of 35 eagles, including those that were bred in captivity. Only seven eagles are exhibited at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City for educational purposes. “The rest are kept in enclosures in isolation to minimize human interaction,” he said.

A continuing program

Lim said the DENR-BMB’s information, education and communication campaign is a continuing program.

The celebration of the Philippine Eagle Week, she said, highlights the importance of saving the Philippine Eagle, which also means saving the forest from destruction. The DENR, Lim said, is expanding its partnership with various institutions.

The DENR-BMB kicked off the celebration of the Philippine Eagle Week from June 4 to 10 with a partnership with the Enchanted Kingdom, which will soon highlight the Philippine Eagle in one of its many attractions.

The partnership, Lim said, aims to further strengthen public awareness on the significant role of the Philippine Eagle in the forests, its importance as a national symbol, and the unique heritage the future generations must enjoy and help protect. The DENR-BMB is also pushing for its proposed adopt-a-wildlife scheme. “Right now, we are hoping to partner with the Energy Development Corp. for the adoption of the Philippine Eagle,” she said.

Conservation efforts to prevent the Philippine Eagle from being extinct face the same old problems.

While there are laws that impose severe punishment for violators of environmental laws, the poor enforcement of these laws is failing to stop the rapid loss of biodiversity.

The massive destruction of ecosystems, illegal-wildlife trade and in the case of the Philippine Eagle—hunting is still strongly felt.

The killing of a Philippine Eagle is punishable by imprisonment of between six and 12 years, and/or a fine ranging from P100,000 to P1 million, as stipulated in Republic Act 9147, or the wildlife protection and conservation law.

Many of those who commit the crime, however, remain unpunished, as cases remain unsolved.

Lim said there is really a need to teach every Filipino the real value of the country’s rich biodiversity, particularly its unique wildlife, like the Philippine Eagle, before it is too late. After all, Lim said, biodiversity loss is everybody’s loss.

Monday, June 6, 2016


Sunday, 29 May 2016 00:00 []

June will be a busy month for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as it leads the celebration of the Philippine Environment Month.

“We celebrate Environment Month this year with the renewed and strengthened conviction to care for the land we live on, the air we breathe, and the water which gives us life. More than any time in this planet’s history, it is now that we must put our acts together to combat increasing threats to our ecosystems,” said DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje.

With the theme, “Go Wild for Life, Combat Biodiversity Loss,” Paje said that the fight against illegal wildlife trade must continue, noting that the extinction of species is irreversible and losses are permanent.”

He added that biodiversity loss has affected the livelihood of many Filipinos especially those in the agricultural and fisheries sector and even causes losses in the economy due to natural calamities.

The month-long celebration begins with a three-day Young Eco-Ambassador’s Camp that will be held on UP National Engineering Center on June 1 – 3.

Sponsored by the Young EcoAmbassadors Pilipinas, the Department of Education, and DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), the camp will bring together successful high school student applicants together with their advisers from all over Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

The Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) will host the Philippine Eagle Week celebration in collaboration with Enchanted Kingdom (EK) in Sta. Rosa, Laguna with the theme “Saving Eagles, Protecting Forests, Securing our Future” on June 4. A series of fun-filled activities will take place during the celebration, which includes the participation of the winners of the AGILA costume contest, and EK’s Circle of Artists wearing of eagle costumes while parading around the amusement park.

Philippine Eagle Week is observed annually from June 4 – 10.

The EMB will also hold a multi-media exhibit on combating biodiversity loss and beating climate change at Robinsons Galleria in Ortigas Center, Quezon City, from June 6 to 8.

The EMB’s Air Quality Management Division will conduct an orientation on ecosystem-based adaptation at its Air Quality Management Training Center (AQMTC) on June 6, and an emission inventory training-workshop for the EMB regional offices.

The EMB’s Environmental Education and Information Division (EEID) will bring together bloggers for the Environmental Blogger’s Forum to promote the hashtag #GreenEnvironmentGawingForever at the Cocoon Boutique in Quezon City on June 7.

A General Assembly and Consultation Workshop on the Upland National Implementation Action Plan on June 7 and a workshop on the draft Revised Chemical Control Order for Cyanide and its compounds will be held June 9 at the EMB AQMTC Conference Room.

To showcase an environment-friendly building, the Laguna Lake Development Authority will conduct a “Green Building Tour” of its office on June 8.

The annual Clean Air Forum, which is DENR’s sustaining effort to further improve air quality, and the activity on the Capacity Development of Micro and Small Medium Enterprises in compliance with the Environmental Permitting Requirements are scheduled on June 14 and 15 - 16 respectively, at the DENR Social Hall in Quezon City.

The Capacity Development of Micro and Small Medium Enterprises is a two-day seminar that will be in partnership with EMB-AQMS and the Environmental Compliance Assistance Center, and is open to the public.

On June 16, the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center Amphitheater in Quezon City will feature the live mural painting by A.G. Saño and the youth artists, as the “Stop Illegal Wildlife Trade Campaign” will be held in General Santos City.

The EMB will also hold the 2nd Integrated National Solid Waste Management Summit on SM Megatrade Hall on June 21-24, and the Training on Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Management for Industries in Cebu City on June 23-24. An orientation on the Globally Harmonized System will be held on Davao City on June 24.

The Philippine Arbor Day, a nationwide tree planting activity, will be spearheaded by the Strategic Communication Initiatives Service of DENR at the Upper Marikina Watershed and the Ipo Watershed on June 25.

Activities that will be spearheaded by the EMB’s Climate Change Division will be training on Ecosystem-based Adaptation in Development Planning on June 27-29 for selected DENR employees.

The EMB will also hold an Environmental Eco-Tour at the Las Piñas Parañaque Critical Habitat on June 29, and a National Training-Workshop on Air Quality Monitoring Network on June 27-30.

Cleaning of adopted esteros, tree planting activities, and a bike parade will also be held nationwide during the month-long celebration. ##