The Philippine government has made history in its bid to prevent the extinction of the Philippine eagle while helping enhance diplomatic relations between the country and Singapore through conservation of the country’s endemic but critically endangered raptor.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recently formalized the wildlife loan agreement on lending a pair of Philippine eagles to its foreign partner, Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) for conservation-related purposes including breeding in Singapore.

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said the signing of the deal marks “a new chapter in Philippine biodiversity conservation by reaching beyond our borders and cooperating with another sovereign State, the Republic of Singapore.”

Cimatu said lending the pair of Philippine eagles is a biosecurity measure that would ensure “there’ll be Philippine eagles left in Singapore for breeding in case a catastrophe like avian disease hits the country and wipes out this species’ population here.”

The environment chief reiterated that the DENR is open to the possibility of lending Philippine eagles for breeding in other countries as well.

“Lending the pair of Philippine eagles is a biosecurity measure.”

The Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) are top predators responsible for regulating populations of small animals that may pose danger to humans and crops.

With its dwindling population due to habitat loss and illegal hunting, experts estimate that there are less than 400 pairs left in the wild, according to the DENR.

WRS Deputy CEO and Chief Life Sciences Officer Dr. Cheng Wen-Haur signed the agreement and thanked the Filipinos for entrusting a pair of Philippine eagles to the WRS.

“It’s an honor and privilege to be the first recipient of Philippine eagles,” Cheng said after signing the conservation deal.

He said the agreement will promote long-term partnership on protecting and breeding the Philippine eagle outside its native country.

“Loan of the eagles this year is especially symbolic as it coincides with the 50th anniversary of friendship between the Philippines and Singapore,” Cheng said.

The DENR and Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) Inc. will help WRS with the breeding of the pair of loaned Philippine eagles by providing technical assistance.

 “It coincides with the 50th anniversary of friendship between the Philippines and Singapore.”

The eagles will be on loan for an initial 10 years and there’s possibility for renewal of the agreement, according to the DENR.

The DENR clarified that the loaned pair and the pair’s offsprings belong to the Philippine government.

The pair of Philippine eagles will be flown to Singapore from Davao on June 4.

According to the PEF, the eagles will be quarantined for about a month before settling at Singapore’s Jurong Bird Park, Asia’s largest bird park which offers a 20.2-hectare hillside haven for nearly 3,500 birds of 400 species.

The WRS expects the pair of Philippine eagles to be crowd-drawers at the bird park.

The DENR said to be sent to Singapore are 15-year old male eagle Geothermica and 17 year-old female eagle Sambisig.

Both are products of the Davao City-based Philippine Eagle Center’s conservation breeding program.

Proclamation 615 series of 1995 declared the Philippine eagle as the country’s national bird.

Such eagle’s uniqueness, strength, power and love for freedom “exemplifies the Filipino people,” according to Proclamation 615.

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