There’s a backup plan for saving our Philippines Eagle population, and it involves a trip to Singapore! Yes, you read that right: 15-year-old male Geothermica and 17-year-old female Sambisig, two eagles currently living in the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao, will be transferred to Singapore next month—and it’s not just for a quick visit. The two eagles will make their new home in Jurong Bird Park, which is the largest bird park in all of Asia.
The two birds were bred in captivity in Davao, and are set to play a key role as ambassadors for Philippine biodiversity in Singapore.
The first-of-its-kind arrangement is an attempt to conserve the critically endangered birds. On Monday, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) signed a wildlife loan agreement with Wildlife Reserves Singapore, the institution managing the bird park. The agreement allows the transfer and conservation breeding of the eagles once they are settled in Singapore. Sambisig and Geothermica will make their home in the bird park for the next 10 years, but will remain as properties of the Philippines.
The two birds and their possible offspring will serve as the “fallback population” should any catastrophic events take place in the Philippines. In 2017, avian flu hit parts of the country and killed at least 37,000 birds in Central Luzon.
“This serves as an insurance policy for our eagles, so that if something bad happens to our captive population here, we have a set of gene pool outside the country that we can rely on and continue propagating,” Dennis Salvador, executive director of the Philippine Eagle Foundation said.
The two birds will be quarantined for a month before being separately shown to the public by July. After a few weeks, they will be reintroduced to one another for breeding. Philippine Eagles mate for life, and they’re the type to take things slow. It takes two years before they produce a single egg, and it will be another two years before they produce another one as these responsible parents usually wait for their offspring to become independent before mating again.
The Philippine eagle is considered as one of the largest eagles in the world in terms of length and wing surface. Due to illegal hunting, loss of forest habitat, and disease outbreaks, it has become one of the critically endangered species. Today, less than 400 pairs remain in the wild. This number is rapidly decreasing, and this new biosecurity measure just might be the backup plan we need.