In celebration of the 23rd year of the Philippine Eagle Week (PEW), Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on Tuesday underscored the role that indigenous peoples (IPs) play as stewards of the forests, especially the national bird.
The critically endangered Philippine eagle maintains the ecological balance of the country’s vast forests, Cimatu said in a statement.
“The Philippine eagle’s presence in the forests is intrinsically connected to the web of life, in the lives of our brethren ‘katutubos’ and resonates in their everyday lives, deeming the eagle sacred and providing utmost protection from harm. For it is through these indigenous practices, we are able to learn from their culture and beliefs and understand how wildlife and humans can co-exist harmoniously,” he said.
“There is no more opportune time than now to learn how to take care of our fragile environment, especially during this pandemic. What better way to learn of these stories through local stewards who serve as our eyes and ears in the forests,” Ano added.
The theme of this year’s celebration, “The Philippine Eagle and Indigenous Peoples: Protecting our forests, protecting our future,” highlights the vital role of IPs in protecting the eagles’ forest homes and especially most endangered wild fauna.
Undersecretary for Special Concerns Edilberto Leonardo, the concurrent Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau Director, said the Philippine Eagle Week “reminds us that conservation of wildlife is every Filipino’s duty, and that this fragile world is not ours alone.”
“As this magnificent bird of prey continues to uphold the ecological balance of our forests, we reach out to every Filipino to adopt a culture of respect for all life forms, most especially for our national bird,” Leonardo said.
Known as the largest of the extant eagles in the world in terms of length and wing surface, the Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) is currently classified as a “critically endangered raptor in the Updated National List of Philippine Threatened Fauna or the DENR Administrative Order 2019-09 and by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
The wild population of the species throughout the archipelago remains precarious at approximately 400 pairs. Hunting and loss of forest habitats remain the primary threats to birds’ survival.