NAMAMAYUK volunteers rescue distressed Philippine Eagle

On the night of February 24th, a distressed animal later verified as a Philippine Eagle was handed over to the Bantay sa Yutang Kabilin (BYK) volunteers of Nagkahiusang Manobong Manununod sa Yutang Kabilin (NAMAMAYUK), Inc., an Indigenous Peoples Organization situated at Sitio Balmar, Nabaliwa in Pangantucan, Bukidnon. BYK volunteers Datu Nonoy Nonay and Fermin Daculay were approached by Mr. Dodong Watang, a local resident who was tending to his chickens in his farm, when he came across the bird caught in a dense shrub. Its wings were trapped and prevented it to fly. Dodong managed to get hold of the bird and transferred it to his hut. Fermin and Datu Nonoy, as trained BYKs, responded urgently to the situation.

The eagle was safely transferred to the sitio hall. As it was a rare sight, however,  the locals swarmed the area further causing stress to the bird. Having learned the protocols, Fermin radioed to NAMAMAYUK Chairman Elpedio Suclatan to get advice on what to do. In partnership with Xavier Science Foundation, the team referred the case to the Philippine Eagle Foundation through Dr. Jayson Ibañez, PEF Director for Research and Conservation, who shared important points in managing a distressed wildlife.

A quick response team was formed to facilitate the handling of the animal, communication lines were activated, and the bird was finally placed at the Turugan to keep away from prying people. PEF then mobilized a Rescue Team the following day headed by Dominic Tadena, Senior Animal Keeper with Andrei Von Mariano Tirona, a biologist, and Dr. Sheen Erica Gadong, a veterinarian. They were accompanied by the Protected Area Management Office (PAMO) of DENR headed by PaSu Ner Doydoy.

BYK volunteers of NAMAMAYUK, Inc. with XSF, PEF and PAMO-DENR

The rescue team conducted initial medical assessment of the eagle, examining it physically of obvious injuries and trauma.

As shared by the team, the eagle is about less than a year old, and weighs about 3.5 kilograms. A bit off in weight due to dehydration.

More thorough blood works and examination will be performed at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City.

Residents of Sitio Balmar were enthusiastic to witness the rescue mission and to see up close and personal a critically endangered species. According to the elders Datu Herminio “Tumanod” Guinto and Datu Suclatan, ever since they have been hearing the Kulago, as what the locals call the eagle. Several instances have they seen evidence of bird feathers in their ancestral domain but haven’t seen it actual until this time. Sightings were recorded by the BYKs during their regular patrolling and monitoring activities. According to Fermin, the trainings that the BYKs received, especially during their learning visit to the PEC in Davao, helped them manage the situation and assured the safe handling of the eagle.

Before the rescue team left, Dominic expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the local community for showing great sincerity in protecting the forests and conserving the wildlife.

Truly, it was a wonderful experience for all. The existence of the Philippine Eagle in the territory of the Manobo community is a living proof of its richness and good health, as animals like the eagle continue to thrive. Collaborative engagement of various stakeholders, IPOs, CSOs and government agencies is highly encouraged to better provide support to local communities in strengthening their protection and conservation efforts of the Mt. Kalatungan landscape.

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