DAVAO CITY– The body of Philippine Eagle Pamana was found lifeless in the forest of Mount Hamiguitan, two months after the bird was released into the wild. Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) biologists and local forest guards found Pamana's body near a creek in the Hamiguitan mountain range in Davao Oriental, still with the tracking device attached. A small bullet hole on the bird indicates the eagle was apparently killed with an air gun, prompting protests from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
In a statement, PETA’s Rochelle Regodon said, “Shooting animals in the wild is a coward’s pastime. Hunters use animals as mere targets and they lack empathy, understanding and respect for living creatures. PETA condemns this act of cruelty.” A necropsy report proved that the giant raptor was shot with a 5mm bullet, commonly used for air rifles. The bird was hit on the right chest. A tiny metal fragment, believed to be from a shattered gun pellet, was also isolated from the carcass.
Two years ago, the eagle also suffered wounds when it was rescued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources personnel from the forests near Iligan City. Named, Pamana, the bird was rehabilitated by PEF and released to the wild. Pamana’s movements were monitored by PEF personnel through a miniature transmitter that's trackable by GPS or global positioning system.
“It is really sad how people completely disregard the importance of the Philippine Eagle to our environment. We have worked so hard for people to understand the whole system and still there are those who kill these birds,”
PEF executive director Dennis Salvador said.
Salvador added that around lunch of Aug. 10, their field team noted the ‘mortality mode’ sent by Pamana’s radio signals.
“This indicated that the unit has not moved for at least six hours. One of two things might have happened – either the radio unit came off or the bird has
died,” Salvador explained.
The team tracked the location of the radio transmitter to find out what really happened to the bird. After some days of searching, the team found the decomposed carcass of Pamana by a creek below the thick forest where she was released.
Ana Lascano, PEF veterinarian, stated in her necropsy report that the bird could have suffered from “gun shot wound leading to possible trauma.” The PEF had hoped that the bird would mature, breed and contribute to its dwindling population. With only 400 adult pairs left of the species, the Philippine Eagle is virtually extinct. The species is currently classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Regodon found it unfortunate that Pamana’s freedom and life was abruptly cut by some senseless sport, adding that PETA has asked concerned authorities to find the culprits and file charges appropriate charges.
“Panama’s shooter should be found and charged to the full extent of Philippine law,” Regodon said, adding that all animals, regardless of kind, desire to live freely, multiply and socialize with other animals.
Incidentally, killing a Philippine Eagle carries a penalty of 12 years.
*Published in print version (Voice of the South, Volume 12, No. 9)