Mati maps out plan to protect Philippine eagles

MATI CITY -- The City Government here is mapping out a better plan on how to protect and preserve the growing Philippine eagle population in the area.

Mati Mayor Michelle Rabat recently called a meeting with members and stakeholders of the Philippine Eagle Sanctuary Management Council (PESMC) composed of the Philippine Eagle Foundation Inc. (PEFI), the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), representatives of Barangay Macambol, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Tourism (DOT), along with invited guests from the mining company Asiaticus Management Corporation and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

In the said meeting, PEFI director for research and conservation Jayson Ibanez revealed their efforts on having the locally declared Philippine Eagle Sanctuary in Cabuaya declared as a "critical habitat". He said that by doing so, the Philippine eagles in the area, now numbering four, will be better protected not just by the local community but by the national and international communities as well.

Ibanez said they have already submitted to the DENR their proposal and are now waiting for the decision of the national government.

Strong LGU support

Mayor Rabat, meanwhile, expressed support for the PEFI's effort to have the Cabuaya eagle sanctuary declared as a critical habitat, saying it is high time the eagle sanctuary (declared a sanctuary in 2003 by her father, the late Mati Mayor Francisco Rabat) is recognized at the national and international levels.

She said that the presence of Philippine eagles in Mati only shows how rich their biodiversity is. It was learned that aside from Mati, other areas in Davao Oriental where Philippine eagles have been sighted are Tarragona and Manay. But of the three areas, only Mati has been declared an eagle sanctuary.

Mining company Asiaticus Management Corporation (Amcor) also threw in their support for the preservation and protection of the Philippine eagle.

Arvin Carlom, Amcor community relations officer, said that as part of their contribution, they have spent for the delineation of the eagle sanctuary that falls within Amcor's mining concession area. He said they will also be adopting a forest and mountain within the mining area that will serve as the eagles' habitat.

New chick

In Monday's meeting, PEFI also shared the good news that a one-month-old eaglet was discovered in the nest of eagle couple Cabu and Aya. A team visited the nest on Tuesday to study the couple and their new chick.

City Administrator Richard Villacorte said they will soon be coming up with a "name the eagle" contest and will reward anyone who would come up with the best name for the new chick.

In 2007, the couple also produced an eagle named Cabuaya, who is considered to be the first-ever monitored juvenile eagle born and raised in the wild.

Ibanez said that since leaving the nest of her parents on September 2010, Cabuaya is now monitored to be staying at Sitio Macambol, Barangay Magum, which falls under the Amcor mining area.

Asked of the danger the new area poses to eagle Cabuaya, Ibanez said that so far they have monitored her to be constantly moving within the area thus they are certain that it is still safe. Amcor has also committed for the protection of Cabuaya while she's staying in their area. (Ben O. Tesiorna)

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