35-km virtual race in 35 days set for Philippine eagle conservation

Philippine eagle Agsamon turns five months old in May 2021. MindaNews photo courtesy of Philippine Eagle Foundation

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 11 July) – The Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) is organizing a 35-kilometer virtual race for 35 days starting next month to raise funds for the establishment of a new facility in Barangay Eden, Toril District here to house the critically endangered raptors.

Andi Baldonado, PEF development program manager, revealed during the Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City Davao on Monday that the foundation is organizing the virtual race dubbed “Solidarity Run for Peace, Health and the Philippine Eagle” to commemorate the 35 years of Philippine eagle conservation in the country.

The race was scheduled from August 6 to September 10. Participants should finish the race either by walking, jogging or running in 35 days.

The PEF, which was founded in 1987, has partnered with Virtual Race Philippines in organizing the race, she said.

She added that part of the proceeds will go to the conservation breeding program of the Philippine Eagle Center to protect the raptors from the threat of avian influenza (H5N1) or bird flu.

She said the race was initiated by no less than American ornithologist Dr. Bob Kennedy, the conservation champion who helped establish the conservation program that paved the way for the founding of PEF.

Kennedy also convinced then President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. to change the raptor’s name from monkey-eating eagle to Philippine eagle, she added.

Baldonado stressed that the foundation needs to immediately raise funds for the transfer of the center’s breeding facility to Barangay Eden, Toril District from its current facility in Barangay Malagos amid the bird flu outbreaks reported in the city’s neighboring areas.

“We cannot wait for the time to come that there is already a confirmed case in Malagos before we act because the virus spreads quickly and it can be fatal to the Philippine eagles,” she said.

She said the PEF eyes to relocate initially three breeding pairs this year to the new location, which has an estimated area of 50 hectares owned by the City Government of Davao.

She said that a usufruct agreement between PEF and the city government is currently being worked out.

Baldonado noted the existing 8.4-hectare center in Malagos is surrounded by residential areas and even farms of game fowl breeders, which put the Philippine eagles at risk of contracting the fatal virus.

There are around 400 pairs of Philippine eagles left in the wild, she said, adding that the eagles are very sensitive and breeding activities can be disrupted easily.

Baldonado said the disturbances from adjacent communities make it hard for the pairs to breed and produce eggs.

She said that the PEF needs intervention from the city government and Department of Environment Natural Resources to avoid encroachment of human activities on the natural habitat of the eagles.

Baldonado said the new location is located within the Mount Apo Natural Park.

“We have nests within the Mount Apo Natural Park, which is a known ancient breeding site for Philippine eagles. It’s ideal for our facilities,” she said.

She said it will be more helpful if residential and commercial developments will be avoided in the area where the new location of the center will be constructed. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)