Sunday, September 23, 2007

ENV: Philippine Monkey-eating Eagle

New sighting of RP eagles encourages conservation
By Villamor Visaya Jr., Northern Luzon Bureau, Posted date: September 20, 2007

PEÑABLANCA, Cagayan—At least three new sightings of the endangered Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) were recorded recently at the Peñablanca protected landscape and seascape here, prompting conservationists to be upbeat on efforts to protect the national bird.

Dr. Artemio Antolin, Conservation International (CI) biodiversity corridor program director, said the sightings came following seven sightings along the Northern Sierra Madre natural park in Isabela.

Logging survivors

“These Philippine eagles have been seen but their nesting and breeding sites have yet to be identified. This information is promising … even though commercial logging had been rampant in the 1970s to the 1980s along the Sierra Madre mountain ranges,” he said.

The Philippine eagle, a forest raptor described as one of the three most critically endangered species in the world, belongs to the 118 species of birds seen in the Peñablanca protected area, Antolin said.

At least 56 species, or 47 percent, of the birds in the park are endemic, he added.

Endemic owls

CI records said at least 178 species of fauna (birds, doves, reptiles and bats) have been recorded in the park, with 54 percent of them classified as endemic.

Four endemic owls have been seen in the park.

“The park possesses a wealth of biological diversity. In fact, it is one of the most important bird areas worldwide and a conservation priority in the country,” Antolin said.

Antolin and other CI officials last week entered into a reforestation agreement with the Toyota Motor Corp., the Peñablanca local government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the 1,772-hectare reforestation project in five villages in Peñablanca’s protected landscape and seascape.

Caves, rivers

CI records said the Peñablanca protected area has a 118,781-hectare forest and marine area. It is connected to the Northern Sierra Madre natural park, which has 476,588-hectare marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

“The forest of Peñablanca is a haven of endemic flora and fauna that is the richest in the world and considered as one of the country’s last remaining old growth and mossy forests,” Antolin said.

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