The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is offering a reward of P100, 000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the death of Philippine eagle “Pamana,” Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje announced on Thursday.
Paje said the entire DENR community was distraught over the killing of yet another Philippine eagle, which he described as a setback to government efforts to protect the critically endangered raptor.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of Pamana. Those responsible for this barbaric act must be arrested and punished for committing this environmental crime,” Paje said.
The environment chief, however, said that Pamana’s death will not prevent the government – through the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) – to pursue its captive breeding program to boost the population of the majestic Philippine national bird.
Pamana, a three-year-old female Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), was found dead by PEF biologists and forest guards at the Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (MHRWS) in Davao Oriental last Sunday. A puncture and metal fragment on her right breast indicated she had died of a gunshot wound.
Paje condemned the killing even as he called on law enforcement units in the province to assist regional environment officials in hunting down the perpetrators.
He said the DENR regional office, the Protected Area Management Board of MHRWS and the PEF are now conducting a full investigation on the incident.
“We are distressed that, despite intensified awareness campaigns by various stakeholders, some people still have a blatant disregard for our natural heritage, which, sadly, is what Pamana’s name means,” he lamented.
He also urged local residents to help authorities track down the killers.
The Philippine eagle, Paje said, is protected under Republic Act No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act. As such, anyone found guilty of killing wildlife species can be imprisoned from six to 12 years, with a fine ranging from P100,000 to P1 million.
Moreover, illegal hunting within the MHWRS, which is a protected area, is also punishable by a jail term of six years and a fine of up to P500,000.
Pamana was released within the MHRWS only on June 12. Ironically, she was rehabilitated by the PEF after DENR personnel had rescued her from a gunshot wound three years ago.
In her necropsy report, PEF’s veterinarian Dr. Ana Lascano reported the bird was already in “advanced state of decomposition” when its carcass was found around one kilometer away from the release site in San Isidro, Davao Oriental.
The estimated date of death was on August 10, when field workers observed that a transmitter attached to her back had stopped sending radio signals.
It was not the first time a Philippine eagle was shot dead. On August 14, 2004, a decomposing body of a female Philippine eagle was found in Mt. Apo in Davao City.
The raptor, which was among those monitored by the DENR and PEF for years, bore a gunshot wound, a crack at its keel bone.
The Philippine eagle, hailed the “world’s noblest flier” by former aviator Charles Lindbergh, is considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
There are an estimated 400 pairs remaining in the wild today.
Posted By: Lynne Pingoy