Philippine Eagles set for release in Leyte

BURAUEN, Leyte – A pair of Philippine Eagles were translocated here on June 11 as part of the Philippine Eagle Foundation program to regenerate their population in the wild.


PHILIPPINE Eagle Foundation Director for Operations Dr. Jayson Ibañez and animal keeper Dominic Tadena carry a pair of Philippine Eagles upon arrival in Barangay Kabagna, Burauen, Leyte. (Keith Bacongco)

Dr. Jayson Ibanez, director for operations of the PEF, said this is the first time that eagles have been translocated from Mindanao to Visayas.

Ibañez said that they will be the founder population in the area. 

"The founder population will reestablish the Philippine Eagles at Mount Anonang Lobi key biodiversity area in Leyte," Ibañez said.

The translocation of the eagles is part of their efforts to reintroduce their population in the ancient nesting site of the region, the PEF official said. 

Under this program, Ibañez said that the PEF is eyeing to release 18 more wild-reared eagles from Mindanao and potentially from Samar to Leyte in the next five years.

The last time a pair of eagles was seen in Leyte was around 2007. An eagle was also seen in the area in 2012 before a typhoon hit.

Ibañez believed that the eagles may have been wiped out following the onslaught of typhoon Yolanda in 2013. 

The pair of eagles were airlifted through a Philippine Air Force C-295 cargo plane from Davao City to Tacloban City on Tuesday morning. 

They were transported to the release site in the hinterland village of Kagbana, 64 kilometers south of Tacloban City. 

The initiative is part the group's five-year release program.

Ibañez admitted that it is a bold effort on their part since its their first time to translocate a pair of critically endangered eagles. "This is a milestone in our conservation efforts."

Rescued eagles

The eagles named Uswag and Carlito underwent months of rehabilitation at the Philippine Eagle Center here.

Formerly known as Sibulan, Uswag is a three-year old male eagle rescued from the foothills of Mount Apo in the Sibulan area of Davao City in 2023.

Carlito is a female eagle at least five-years-old and was rescued from Trento in Agusan del Sur in 2022.

Both eagles sustained bullet injuries and underwent rehabilitation.

"These eagles represent two different regions and bloodlines," the PEF said in a briefing paper.

Ibañez said that they are confident that the eagles will survive since they were also from the wild.

He added that it took them about nine years to prepare prior to the translocation.

The preparations include organizing of forest guards, information campaign, and livelihood programs.

Based on their survey, the eagles have enough food in the forest, Ibañez said.

The eagles are now in a temporary holding cage to acclimatize  prior to its release on June 28.