After an unprecedented year that saw travelers cooped up at home, there were also things to celebrate. After all, if there’s anything we Filipinos know how to do, it’s how to always see the bright side. What Makes Us Smile? Here’s reason #2:
Any discussion about the Philippine eagle means using a series of superlatives: It is the tallest, among the most powerful — and the rarest — eagles in the world. There are only about 600 Philippine eagles left in the world, and Mindanao is home to most of these critically endangered birds.
So, when a juvenile eagle was found in a trap in July 2020, the concerned farmer immediately called for help. Davao’s Philippine Eagle Foundation, which has been at the forefront of conservation efforts for decades, took custody of the eagle and nursed her back to health.
Named Mal’lambugok (which is what the species is called in the Mandaya dialect), the eagle was released in late September into the forests of Caraga town, not far from where it was originally captured. Mal’lambugok flew off with a GPS tracker, which will help scientists and conservationists from the foundation to monitor its movements and learn more about Philippine eagles in general.
Mal’lambugok’s release into the wild helped throw the spotlight on the foundation’s gains over the years, and reminded people that the foundation’s Philippine Eagle Center (PEC) is a good venue for the public to learn more about our endemic creatures, and how we can all be involved in protecting them.
Located in Malagos, Davao City, the PEC offers guided tours of its grounds, which can come with a talk, a viewing of the documentary To Save Our Eagle, and a unique opportunity to observe and learn more about the Philippines’ raptors. Proceeds from the tours all go into the PEC’s conservation initiatives — which include the all-important work of protecting the eagle’s natural forest habitats and the breeding of Philippine eagles in captivity. Through the years, the center has been able to hatch 21 eaglets through natural breeding and seven through artificial means, while also monitoring birds in the wild.