Tree branch kills captive-bred Philippine eagle

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Friday, January 24, 2014

DAVAO CITY -- Rain-sogged vines wrapped around a tree branch at the Philippine Eagle Center broke and fell on a roost perch Sunday night (January 19), killing Philippine Eagle Arakan, a belated report from the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) confirmed.

The branch also destroyed the aviary worth P700,000, PEF reported.

PEF staff discovered the bird’s carcass in the morning. It was found underneath a galvanized iron pipe, which pressed onto its upper breast and shoulders. The debris’ weight and the softened soil on the ground made the recovery more difficult as the staff had to dig the ground to pull the bird out.


On Sunday, six provinces and Davao City in Mindanao were placed under storm warning signal number 1 due to Tropical Depression Agaton. [READ: 'Agaton' affects 257 Eastern Mindanao villages]

Mortality Report

Eagles cannot see at night and, unfortunately for Arakan, the branch fell almost directly over its position. The bird was discovered with its right tarsus or claw still holding on to its perch indicating that it must have died instantly upon impact. Post-mortem examination shows bruises on the bird’s head and upper torso.

The eagle died of internal hemorrhage as evidenced by the blood clot around its nares or nostrils. Despite the nature of death, there are no signs of fracture on its bones, head, neck, shoulders, rib cage, spine, and legs.

Tree branch kills Philippine Eagle Arakan in Davao
DAVAO. The carcass of Philippine Eagle Arakan is retrieved from under rain-soaked sod and debris of its aviary inside the Philippine Eagle Center after a tree branch broke and fell, destroying the aviary and killing the eagle. (Photo contributed by Philippine Eagle Foundation)

Vulnerability to Chance Effects

The Philippine eagle is critically endangered due to continued threats associated with habitat loss and human persecution. In addition to this, conservation efforts are also facing the challenges of demographic, environmental, and genetic stochasticity.

Like disease, the changing weather pattern has increasingly become a significant risk factor in the conservation efforts for any endangered wildlife species. Precautionary measures have already been implemented in the Center to minimize risk of disease outbreak. However, there is little that can be done when it comes to environmental factors that occur in a facility that tries to imitate the natural habitat of these birds.

“Chance event like this only underscores how vulnerable the Philippine Eagle is. This was just rain that we are dealing with and I cannot imagine the magnitude of a super typhoon hitting the vicinity. While we are already taking additional measures to mitigate the impacts of chance events, we will continue to work with the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau to aggressively pursue recovery goals for the species,” Philippine Eagle Foundation Executive Director Dennis J.I. Salvador said.

The Philippine Eagle Center houses 36 Philippine eagles, including Arakan, 18 of which are captive-bred.

It simulates a rainforest environment where vines climb up giant trees with wildlings, sod, and other vegetation covering the forest ground. (Sun.Star Davao/PR)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 25, 2014.

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