Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Steven J. Robinson A.O. has joined Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri and other national and local officials in releasing a rescued and rehabilitated Philippine Eagle back to its forest home in Bukidnon province.
Tagoyaman Fernando is among the seven Philippine Eagles that were rescued last year – the highest rescue rate recorded in the history of Philippine Eagle conservation – and the first Philippine Eagle to be released back to the wild this year.
“The Australian Embassy is proud to continue our support to the Philippine Eagle Foundation for the protection and preservation of the Philippine Eagle. I traveled to Bukidnon to witness Tagoyaman’s release because it is an important milestone in the Philippines’ efforts in conserving local wildlife biodiversity,” Ambassador Robinson said in a statement, adding that Australia stands with our friends in the Philippines as they protect their natural resources, in their lands or seas.
Tagoyaman’s release coincided with the observance of Earth Day 2021 and was made possible through the support of the Australian Government, Whitley Fund for Nature, Jurong Bird Park, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region X, and the local government of San Fernando and Bukidnon.
Philippine Eagle Foundation Executive Director Dennis Salvador said cited the challenges they faced in rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing Philippine Eagles in the middle of a pandemic.
“It’s difficult to mobilize field operations when travel restrictions are imposed and sources of funds are shut down. Still, we are able to persevere, thanks to the support of the Australian Government and other conservation partners,” said Salvador said during the short program in honor of Tagoyaman’s release.
In October 2020, Tagoyaman was retrieved in San Fernando, Bukidnon after getting accidentally caught in a native trap intended for other animals. The bird was brought to the Philippine Eagle Center for check-up and rehabilitation.
Salvador said Tagoyaman’s release on Earth Day is also a resounding call for long-term solutions to the problematic relationship with nature and wildlife.
“We believe that by conserving the Philippine Eagle and the biodiversity it represents, we can avoid another disease outbreak,” he said.
The PEF conducted an education campaign targeting communities surrounding the release site and Indigenous forest guards were trained to perform voluntary forest patrols and monitor the bird’s movements using the GPS transmitter attached to its back, for the next six months.
“Collaborations and partnerships play a big role in Philippine Eagle conservation. The PEF can’t save the eagles alone. We need the help of our local communities, government agencies, the private sector, and the Filipino people so that one day Philippine Eagles will thrive in the wild,” Salvador added.
Also present during the ceremony releasing Tagoyaman were San Fernando Vice Mayor Norberto Catalan and Philippine Eagle Foundation Trustee Francis Ledesma.