MT. HAMIGUITAN, Davao Oriental—Her flight to freedom was unsteady, as the Philippine eagle hit a tent along her flight path, apparently confused at the sheer number of people watching her regain her freedom.
Pamana, retrieved from the mountains of Iligan City in April 2012, landed some 100 meters away from the kennel where she took off and surveyed her surroundings for about 15 minutes while the crowd silently stood by. After a few more seconds, while the crowd cheered her on, Pamana finally flew off—only to perch on a nearby tree for some 10 minutes.
But third time’s a charm, and the bird, fitted with a GPS device and a radio transmitter for easier tracking, soon soared to freedom at 8:35 Friday morning, as the nation marked its 117th year of independence.
After nearly three years in rehabilitation at the Philippine Eagle Center in Malagos, Calinan district, in this city, Pamana was released into the wild by hacking (soft-release) method. The release ends a life of captivity and human dependence and marks the survival and eventual breeding of the Philippine eagle, reducing the chances of its extinction, said Jayson Ibanez, Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) director for research and conservation.
Pamana’s release, said Dennis Salvador, PEF executive director, “was aimed at improving the genetic flow of eagles here and underscore(d) the significance of this mountain range as part of Unesco’s world heritage sites.”
Mt. Hamiguitan Range, a natural eagle habitat, was named the country’s sixth World Heritage site on June 23, 2014.
Pamana, which literally means heritage, was turned over to the PEF in April 2012 by an Iligan City local, who found her perched on a tree on Mt. Gabuna Range, weak and limping from two gunshot wounds on her wings and breast. The farmer initially took care of the bird before turning it over to environment authorities.
PEF has been trying to breed eagles in captivity to increase the bird’s population and has successfully hatched 25 eaglets since 1992.