Sighting of Philippine Eagle inspires community

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The Technical Working Group of Gabaldon Philippine Eagle Critical Habitat drafted a management plan to further protect the forests and Philippine Eagles in Mt. Minga

The Technical Working Group of Gabaldon Philippine Eagle Critical Habitat drafted a management plan to further protect the forests and Philippine Eagles in Mt. Minga

FOR a long time, village folks of the municipality of Gabaldon have been hearing anecdotal accounts of Philippine Eagle sightings in Mt. Mingan, a forest area that is part of the Central Sierra Madre Mountain Range.

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Most believed that this is just folk lore since no actual proof had been presented.

In February 2014, a group of botanists reported a possible sighting of the Philippine Eagle. To confirm this, Hari¬bon Foundation conducted a research expedition in Mt. Mingan to validate this sighting a month after. During this expedition, the said research team documented a family of Philippine eagles on video and photos.

With haste, Haribon presented this proof to the local officials of the Municipality of Gabaldon, regional DENR and other sectors of the municipality. This great news inspired Adelino Manabat, Municipal Coun¬cilor, to spon¬sor Municipal Ordinance No. 11, S 2014, which was then approved by the Sangguniang Bayan and Mayor Rolando Bue. The ordinance appointed a multi-sectoral technical working group to protect the Philippine Eagle and conserve its habitat. The offspring eagle was consequently dubbed Gab-e (a derivative from Gabaldon Eagle) and presented as the municipality’s flagship species for conservation.

“These major steps that we had undertaken will not only protect and preserve the forest of Mt. Mingan but most importantly the critically endangered Philippine Eagle which our municipality is proud to have,” stated MENRO Wenifredo Songco.

After several awareness raising campaigns were conducted, various sectors, including Indigenous Peoples (IP) leaders, barangay leaders, representatives from the academe, business sector, irrigators’ association, Philippine Army as well as government offices focused on the environment and agriculture convened to plan for the soon to be established Critical Habitat for the Philippine Eagle. Painstaking assessment was undertaken to determine the current state of the Philippine Eagle and its habitat, pressures that threaten the species and responses of the stake¬holders to address the pressures, as well as improve the state of Gab-E and possibly other Philippine Eagles dwelling in Mt. Mingan.

Significant to the planning activity, management schemes were ascertained and roles of stakeholders were defined to ensure that the critical habitat for the Philippine Eagle will be managed properly. Commitments for restoration of fragmented forests and the need for further research on the Philippine Eagle have been established. Further, the local government pledged to allocate annual funds to intensify habitat protection and awareness raising on the Philippine Eagle.

By the end of a three-day workshop, the technical working group brings with them a vision that Gab-E will fly freely through their active participation in implementing the CH Management Plan for the next 5 years and beyond.

The Philippine Eagle Pro¬ject on Mt. Mingan is made possible with funding and support from Birdlife International, Toyota Foundation, Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered fellowships of the Zoo¬logical Society of London, Deutsche Gesells-chaftfür Interna¬¬-tionale Zusammenar¬beit Protected Area Management Enhance¬¬ment, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Local government units of Ga¬baldon, Dinga¬lan and San Luis.

Haribon continues to en¬deavor to raise funds to mobilize protection of the eagle. For more information about Philippine Eagles in Luzon, please email: wildlife@haribon.org.ph.

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