Eaglet gets ‘ninong’
(The Philippine Star) - February 15, 2013 - 1:00am

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – An anonymous donor yesterday pledged P150,000 to be the ninong (godfather) of a newly hatched eaglet and first offspring of Pag-asa, the first Philippine Eagle bred in captivity at the Philippine Eagle Center in Barangay Malagos, Calinan district, this city.

Philippine Eagle Foundation executive director Dennis Salvador told The STAR that the donor, who refused to be identified, pledged P150,000 for the upkeep of the eaglet which was hatched last Saturday.

The non-profit PEF runs the Philippine Eagle Center in Malagos where 25 eagles have been bred in captivity since 1992, when Pag-asa was born.

The latest eaglet, now six days old, is a product of artificial insemination between Pag-asa and the 29-year-old female eagle Kalinawan. It is the first eaglet produced by a Philippine eagle bred in captivity.

Kalinawan, on the other hand, was a giant eagle rescued in Zamboanga del Norte and turned over to the PEF in 2009.

“We will give the privilege of naming the eaglet to the sponsor,” Salvador said.

Being a godparent would mean providing P150,000 annually for the upkeep of Pag-asa’s eaglet.

Salvador pointed out that should the godparent decide to support the eaglet for five consecutive years, the amount would be reduced to P125,000 a year.

However, if the godparent would decide to stop supporting the eaglet, the next sponsor would have the privilege of renaming the bird.

The PEF has been implementing its “adopt-an-eagle” program, wherein several of the 34 Philippine Eagles kept at the Malagos center are being taken care of by their respective sponsors.

At least seven other Philippine Eagles at the Malagos Center are still available for adoption.

Salvador likewise explained that the gender of the new eaglet would be known through the morphometric process and DNA tests.

“But since we do not have DNA facility, we use morphometric and usually are able to accurately sex the bird by the time it is one year old,” Salvador said.

He said the eaglet is being monitored round-the-clock since it was hatched last Feb. 9.

“So far, the chick has been doing fine,” he said.

Salvador said the PEF has been vigorously pursuing its various programs, not only the conservation breeding program but aslso in ensuring that the natural habitats of the remaining Philippine Eagles in the wild are protected.

The Philippine Eagle population is dwindling, with fewer than 1,000 birds remaining, including the 34 now housed at the Malagos center.

The population figure is based on sightings of the giant raptors in the forested areas in Mindanao and Samar.

Former President Fidel Ramos in 1995 declared the Philippine Eagle as the national bird, replacing the maya or sparrow.

Salvador explained that support from various sectors is what has kept the operation of the Malagos eagle center going.

“We owe it to our sponsors and to everybody else who do not only want our program to succeed but for the Philippine Eagle to survive,” said

Salvador, adding that losing the natural habitats of the giant raptor would mean disaster for the environment.

He said that should the country lose all its forest cover, the Philippine Eagle would no longer have a home.


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