DAVAO CITY, Philippines, Nov 19, (Agencies): The national government is currently engaged in discussions with Singaporean environmental authorities to facilitate the transfer of five additional Philippine eagles to the Bird Paradise in Mandai Wild Reserve in Singapore for “conservation breeding” through another loan program, as reported by an official from the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF).
Dr Jayson Ibañez, PEF’s Director for Research and Conservation, revealed that the foundation has already identified the birds earmarked for relocation to the Singapore zoo once the agreement is formalized. Although the timeline for the loaning of these additional raptors remains uncertain, negotiations are actively underway.
Ibañez clarified that this loan program is integral to ongoing efforts aimed at preventing the critically endangered Philippine eagle from extinction. To mitigate the risks associated with having all captive birds in a single facility, he emphasized the importance of distributing breeding stocks to spread potential risks, preventing the so-called ‘all eggs in one basket syndrome.’
The Director highlighted that a comprehensive risk assessment, involving the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), PEF, and wildlife experts, will precede the relocation. This assessment will identify potential risks, including threats and diseases that may impact the well-being of the eagles.
Assuring the suitability of the birds for breeding conditions, Ibañez mentioned that all five eagles are captive-bred and possess the resilience required for such programs.
The Philippine eagle, classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature since 1996, faces a precarious situation with an estimated 392 pairs remaining in the wild, according to PEF.
In June 2019, the Philippines sent eagles “Geothermica” and “Sambisig” to Jurong Bird Park in Singapore for a 10-year loan programme. This initiative aims to safeguard the critically endangered raptors from calamities and diseases. Unfortunately, Geothermica, aged 19, succumbed to a fungal infection caused by Aspergillus molds in September.
Despite this setback, Ibañez emphasized the need to explore cooperative breeding initiatives with international partners, citing successful models that have saved other critically endangered bird species such as the California condor and bearded vultures from extinction.
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