DAVAO CITY – The Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) announced it will stage a 35-kilometer virtual race for 35 days to raise funds to build a new facility in Barangay Eden, Toril District.
Andi Baldonado, PEF development program manager, said during Kapehan sa Dabaw that the foundation is organizing the virtual race called ‘Solidarity Run for Peace, Health, and the Philippine Eagle’ from August 6 to September 10 to commemorate the 35 years of eagle conservation in the Philippines.
The PEF has partnered with the Virtual Race Philippines in organizing the race, she said.
She added that part of the proceeds will go to the conservation breeding program of the Philippine Eagle Center to protect the eagles from the threat of avian influenza (H5N1) or bird flu.
She said the race was initiated by no less than American ornithologist, Dr. Bob Kennedy, the conservation champion who helped establish the conservation program that paved the way for the founding of PEF.
She added that the ornithologist also convinced then President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. to change the raptor’s name to Philippine eagle from monkey-eating eagles.
She said that participants should finish the race by walking, jogging, or running in 35 days.
Baldonado added that the foundation needs to immediately raise funds for the transfer of the center’s breeding facility to Barangay Eden, Toril District from its current facility in Barangay Malagos amid the bird flu outbreaks reported in the city’s neighboring areas.
She said bird flu is fatal to the endangered Philippine eagles.
“We cannot wait for the time to come that there is already a confirmed case in Malagos before we can act because the virus spreads quickly and it is fatal to the eagles,” she said.
She said the PEF is eyeing to relocate initially at least the three breeding pairs this year to the new location, which has an estimated area of 50 hectares owned by the City Government of Davao.
She said usufruct agreement between PEF and the city government is currently being worked out.
She said the existing 8.4-hectare center in Malagos is surrounded by residential areas and even farms of game fowl breeders, which put the eagles at risk of contracting the fatal infection.
There are around 400 pairs of eagles left in the wild, she said.
She added that eagles are very sensitive and breeding activities can be disrupted easily.
She added that the disturbances from adjacent communities make it hard for the pairs to breed and produce eggs.
Baldonado said that the PEF needs intervention from the city government and Department of Environment Natural Resources to avoid encroachment of human activities on the natural habitat of the eagles.
She said the new location is located within the Mount Apo Natural Park, an ‘ancient breeding site’ for the Philippine eagles.
“We have nests within the Mount Apo Natural Park, which is a known ancient breeding site for eagles. It’s ideal for our facilities,” she said.
She said it will be more helpful if residential and commercial developments will be avoided in the area where the new location of the center will be constructed.