Senseless, tragic, meaningless, sickening, incomprehensible are not strong enough words to describe the killing of Pamana (heritage or legacy in Tagalog), a rare Philippine Eagle last month in Mindanao.
Pamana was shot dead two months after being released (on June 12, Independence Day) back into the wild following three years of recuperation at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao for another shooting.
Her decomposing remains were found on a forest floor in a protected area – the UNESCO World Heritage Site Mount Hamiguitan Range with a gunshot wound on its right breast. It was the 30th to be found dead or wounded out of an estimated population of less than 400 pairs in the wild, which reside mainly on the large southern island of Mindanao. The Swiss-based International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists the species as “critically endangered”, due to the depletion of its tropical rainforest habitat and hunting.
I feel sickened when I first heard the news about the mindless killing of such a majestic and rare bird. But in death, Pamana might just live up to her name by leaving us with a ‘pamana’. The sheer shock and horror brought on by her senseless killing have stirred up raw emotions from the generally placid public and created awareness for this beautiful but endangered species. A genuine national treasure that we could proudly call our own for the Philippine Eagles are found nowhere else in the world.
In the near term, hunting poses a clear and present danger to the existing but fast-dwindling population of Philippine Eagles. This could be overcome through proactive education, intensive training, vigilant protection and conservation programs…..all of which require funding.
But the biggest threat to the survival of the species is the loss of their natural habitat through forest destruction and agricultural cultivation. Old-growth forest continues to be lost rapidly and most of the remaining lowland forest is leased to logging concessions. Mining applications pose an additional threat. This existential problem needs strong political will from our government if we are to save this national treasure of ours from extinction.
Take the first step today in saving the Philippine Eagle. Find out how you can help at http://www.philippineeagle.org/center/ Better yet, go and visit them in Davao City. Let’s not allow the killer of Pamana to have the final say.
Best of health,