Flying away home

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AT FIRST there was eerie quiet followed by a countdown. Seconds later the cage was opened and Philippine Eagle named Tagoyaman Fernando walked out cautiously with his keen eyes scanning the horizon, as if looking for any hostilities. Then it spreads his mighty wings and in a couple of flaps the eagle is on its flight back home to the forest of San Fernando town in Bukidnon province.

The crowd gathered – many teary eyed – cheered, clapped and waved as the four-year-old Tagoyaman Fernando was released last April 22 after undergoing five months of rehabilitation at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City.

“What a beautiful sight,” commented a Philippine Eagle enthusiast.

Tagoyaman Fernando, named after his rescuer Datu Tagoyaman Sinangkap and the place where the Philippine Eagle was rescued together with six others in October last year. The six other eagles were still at the Philippine Eagle Center.

Tagoyaman was found by natives accidentally caught in a native trap intended for other animals, and immediately sent to Davao for rehabilitation. It was the highest rescue rate in the history of Philippine Eagle conservation.

The Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) and the Australian Embassy, which supports the PEF, said Tagoyaman’s release back to the wilds was successful because of the help extended by Whitley Fund for Nature, Juring Bird Park, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Regional Office X and the Municipal Government of San Fernando.

Tagoyaman is now fitted with a global positioning system transmitter to help conservationist track his movement.

“(Tagoyaman’s) release incidentally on Earth Day is also our resounding call for long-term solutions to our problematic relationship with nature and wildlife,” PEF Executive Director Dennis Salvador said.

Salvador added that “rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing Philippine eagles in the middle of a pandemic is very challenging. It’s difficult to mobilize field operations when travel restrictions are imposed and sources of funds are shut down.”

The release was also witnessed by Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven Robinson, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, San Fernando Vice Mayor Norberto Catalan and PEF trustee Francis Ledesma.

“We hope to see Tagoyaman successfully breed and contribute to his species’ wild population in the future,” Salvador said. –By Rhea Montecalvo

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