TIWI, Albay: A farmer from Barangay Cale of this town found a distressed juvenile eagle inside the geothermal field forest reserve and nurtured it for six months. On Thursday afternoon, he turned over the healthy rufous-bellied eagle to the management of the Philippine Geothermal Production Co. Inc. (PGPC) and officials of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro) in Albay.
Lorenzo Consulta, 34 and a resident of Barangay Cale, said he was feeding his cow in a grassy area within the geothermal field when he saw a bird that fell from a tree.
"The bird fell from one of the towering trees, so I picked it up and brought it to our bahay kubo to nourish it until the bird is capable of flying back to the original habitat," he said in his local tongue.
Lorenzo said that he and his wife Gemma, 28, first fed the bird with bananas and other fruits, but the bird refused to eat.
"We thought that it was just an ordinary bird because it's just a baby with little feathers. But the bird did not want to eat bananas. We wondered why the bird did not want to eat fruits. Until we decided to feed him pork meat," said Lorenzo who named the bird "Duterte."
"To our surprise, the bird ate the meat. From then on, we bought chicken and pork meat for Duterte's food. That's also the time when my wife and I discovered that the bird is not just an ordinary one but an eagle locally called 'colago'."
Lorenzo and Gemma nourished Duterte for six months alongside several pets and animals under their care.
Lorenzo said they tried to release the eagle back to the forest, but the bird kept returning to their house.
The couple are still without a child but said they consider their animals — ostriches, ducks, chickens, turkeys, cows, cats and dogs — as their babies, including Duterte.
On Thursday, Lorenzo and Gemma finally turned over the eagle to the authorities.
Lorenzo said that although he and his wife Gemma felt a little sad that the eagle is no longer under their care, they are happy that it will be back to its original habitat.
Erwin Vargas, PGPC public affairs supervisor, lauded the couple for rescuing and rearing the juvenile eagle.
Vargas said the PGPC forest reserve area is home to many endangered animals like wild pigs, monkeys, snakes and other birds, but this is the first time that an eagle was found nesting in the geothermal forest reserve.
"The PGPC is very happy to know that the geothermal forest reserve is home to different endangered species, specifically an eagle. This indicates that there is an eagle habitat here when Lorenzo, a farmer, was able to rescue an eagle. This is a good sign that our biodiversity is still good and protected," Vargas said.
The eagle was renamed "Tima," derived from the Tiwi-Malinao Forest reserve habitat.
Jerry Arena, DENR-Penro officer in charge, identified the bird's species as rufous-bellied eagle (Lophotriorchis kienerii) based on its physical features. He said that the rufous-bellied eagle is a bird of prey in the family Accipitridae that is found in the forest regions of tropical Asia.
The species, according to the official, is considered endangered due to deforestation.
"We will send Tima to Albay Park and Wildlife for further observation, examination and health assessment," he said.
The park management of Albay can release it back in the forest in time.
Arena said that the presence of the eagle in the area is vital to the sustainability of biodiversity.
The eagle has a crucial role to play in keeping the gentle balance of the ecosystem in check. It helps naturally regulate species population and provide an umbrella of protection to all other life forms in its territory.
"In Albay, the biodiversity is still protected due to the presence of PGPC. Sadly, there are areas specifically when Mayon Volcano erupts and the biodiversity is destroyed. Seldom for us to uncover or rescue a Philippine eagle. This is the first time that a farmer rescued a juvenile eagle in Albay," Arena said.
The PGPC covers at least 17,661 hectares of forest geothermal reserve.
The PGPC, formerly Philippine Geothermal Inc., generates 106 MW per hour with cumulative gross generations of 57,000-gigawatt hour from 1979 to 2021.
The PGPC in Tiwi is Asia's first geothermal power plant, and the largest source of clean and renewable geothermal energy in the Philippines. It supplies clean and renewable energy in the country through the Luzon grid with rainforest and secondary forest are being preserved ensuring that they have water, clean energy and livelihood.
The Tiwi commercial operations began in 1979, ushering in the birth of the geothermal industry in Southeast Asia. It has a contract area of 5,087 hectares with 44 active production wells and 27 injection wells.