The Plight of the Philippine Eagle

by Jeepney Projects on May 21st, 2012

Reproduced by permission of the Quail and the Mount Diablo Audubon Society.the Quail

The Plight of the Philippine Eagle, Ian Austin and David Tomb, Disappearing Species – Mindanao, Philippines
the Quail, Volume 57, Number 8, May 2012

eagle, ian

Photo by Ian Austin

David Tomb and Ian Austin were half of a group who made a trip to Mindanao in southern Philippines in January 2010 to look for the magnificent and critically endangered Philippine Eagle. While seeking out the eagle and viewing its rapidly diminishing rainforest habitat was the main motivation for the trip, the Philippines is home to 570 species and 170 endemics, so local frogmouths, hornbills, and pittas were also high on the agenda.

Each pair of eagles needs 25 to 50 square miles of primary rainforest in which to hunt and breed. Last year, the total population was estimated at 200 to 400 birds with perhaps 25 breeding pairs. Reproduction is a challenge. The eagles take 5 years to reach maturity, and if bonding is successful (females are larger and picky!) an adult pair raises a single juvenile for two years. Illegal hardwood logging in the national parks and slash-and-burn agriculture has taken a huge toll. Two rainforest stands where the local guide had seen Philippine Trogons the previous year had vanished, replaced by charred stumps and plowed fields that would yield about two years of crops before depleting the soil.

After visiting the resource-strapped Philippine Eagle Center (PEC) in Davao, the idea for “Jeepney Projects Worldwide, Art for Conservation” was born. The project seeks to raise awareness of the eagle’s plight, raise support for the PEC, and seek longer-term solutions to the habitat destruction, such as providing ecotourism as an alternative to subsistence agricultural.

David Tomb has been a bird nerd and bird artist since childhood in Oakland, is a successful artist with works in public collections, and has created prints for central American and Philippine species. Ian Austin has been birding since childhood in Canada, led trips for LA Audubon, and has conducted research on Xantus’s Murrelets in the Channel Islands. They will present photos and videos of birds seen during the Mindanao trip, and discuss what we can do to support globally threatened species.