Philippine Airlines is flying two Philippine eagles from their sanctuary in Davao to Singapore, via Manila, as part of the first international Philippine Eagle loan Agreement between the governments of the Philippines (through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources) and Singapore (through Wildlife Reserves Singapore [WRS]).
Geothermica and Sambisig – 15 and 17 years old respectively – are being loaned to WRS to hopefully encourage breeding at Singapore, specifically at the Jurong Bird Park, one of the zoological facilities managed by WRS.
The Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) hopes that through the eagle loan program, the WRS can help secure a gene pool of the Philippine eagles for species conservation and as insurance against natural calamities that can wipe out the only captive Philippine Eagle population at the Philippine Eagle Center (PEC) in Malagos, Davao City. The PEF manages the PEC where both Geothermica and Sambisig were hatched and reared.
The preserved gene pool can also be critical in preservation efforts in case of health epidemics like the avian flu.
Many of PEF’s eagles at the bird sanctuary have corporate sponsors: Geothermica, male, is sponsored by Energy Development Corporation; Sambisig, female, by Dow Chemical Philippines. PAL is sponsor to another eagle named Sinag.
“Through the PAL Foundation, we are flying the loaned eagles to Singapore because we firmly believe in the eagle preservation advocacy of the PEF,” said Mr. Jaime J. Bautista, PAL President and PEF Vice Chairman.
According to the PEF, Geothermica and Sambisig are at the prime age for breeding. They were previously paired with other eagles at the Center but these attempts did not progress to natural pairing. Captive-bred eagles are said to be more resilient than those from the wild.
Meanwhile, the WRS, one of the world’s leading zoological institutions, has been supporting conservation efforts across Southeast Asia through wildlife research and awareness campaigns with over 50 wildlife conservation projects.
While PAL has a long experience in flying animals, this is the first time a critically endangered species is receiving special treatment as Geothermica and Sambisig fly on today’s Davao-Manila (PR2808) and Manila-Singapore (PR507) PAL flights.