Endangered Philippine Hawk-Eagle bred in captivity

At last some good news to report from Manila in the Philippines following successful breeding of another critically endangered  Philippine hawk-eagle chick this week. Only twenty years ago this rare eagle was feared to be heading for extinction throughout the Philippines.

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The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says there are just 180-500 mature Philippine eagles in Mindanao, Luzon, Leyte and Samar islands, with forest loss and poaching the main threats to their survival.

It said the captive breeding programme had so far failed. The first released bird electrocuted on a transmission line nine months after it was released into the wild in 2004.

Another captive-bred eagle was killed by a hunter four months after being released in 2008.

The species is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN.

While the Philippines has laws banning the killing, collection, and maltreatment of wildlife as well as activities that threaten critical habitats, the eagles continue to be prime targets and heavily persecuted throughout its range.

It also called for a stop to the practice of bounty-hunting Philippine eagles that are then turned over to the government or the foundation with the expectation of a reward.

“The species is under threat from human persecution. All the Philippine hawk-eagles that had been turned over to us were either injured by hunters or were young birds that had been removed from their nests,” she told AFP.

The adult of the dark-brown bird is 64-69 centimetres (25.2-27.2 inches) long, with a long crest of four or five feathers protruding from its crown.

Preying on lowland forest animals, the unique raptor is one of nearly 200 bird species that are found only in the Philippines.

Swiss-based International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says it is “vulnerable” from hunting and habitat loss.

The foundation had been trying to breed Philippine hawk-eagles since 2001, using adults rescued from hunters that were rehabilitated at its project site in the southern city of Davao.

“We got our first compatible pair in 2009 and they laid eggs in 2010 and 2011, but they always got crushed before we could collect them,” Sumaya said.

The hatchling was from the “pinskeri” subspecies, a Philippine hawk-eagle variant that is found on the southern island of Mindanao, she said.

Set up in 1987 for captive breeding of the critically endangered Philippine eagle, one of the world’s largest birds of prey, the non-profit foundation later also began breeding other raptors found only in the Philippines.

“They are all threatened, they have almost the same habitats and inhabit more or less the same territory as the Philippine eagle,” Sumaya said.

The foundation has artificially bred 24 Philippine eagles from captive pairs and released three young birds back in the wild, though only one of those released birds is still alive.

1 comment to Endangered Philippine Hawk-Eagle bred in captivity

  • Alastair Henderson

    There is mention of two different species in this report the Philippines Eagle and the Hawk-Eagle. It is difficult to untangle which is referred to where throughout the article.

    I understand that the first eagles bred were the Philippines Eagle, three of which were subsequenly released and that the Hawk-Eagle is the most recent breeding success with the first hatched this year.

    Editor’s comment, Alastair you are correct, and unfortunately two of the released Philippines eagles are reported as having been killed, possibly the third also. Lets hope if this new bird is released it has a better future.