By Edith Regalado, 26th February 2016;
Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) Matatag is proving to be true to its name as it recovers from a .22-caliber bullet wound it suffered last Sunday in Barangay Tambobong, Baguio District here.
Tiborcio Aparesio, who claimed responsibility for the incident, brought the wounded giant raptor to the Malagos Eagle Center for treatment. But, on Monday, his claim was belied by his brother Rolando, who also said he was the one who shot the Eagle.
Depending on how the word matatag is used, it could mean to stand firm, to be stable, steadfast or dependable.
Matatag was first brought to the Philippine Eagle Center in Barangay Malagos, Calinan District for rehabilitation four years ago. He was only about a year old then.
Experts then diagnosed Matatag as having anemia and described him as thin, nearly all of his flight feathers gone and in a “pitifully sickly state.”
He recuperated and rehabilitated for three years before he was released back to the wild on Dec. 15, 2014 at the ancestral forest of the indigenous Obu Manuvu tribe here.
The giant raptor was fitted with a radio VHF transmitter for tracking purposes and was observed to have been doing well in the wild until last Sunday when he was brought back to the center.
Carlos Dominguez, Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) chairman, said Matatag is responding well to medication but was alarmed with what happened.
He stressed that there are now only less than 500 pairs of Philippine Eagles, including the 34 kept at the Malagos center and those sighted in the wild in the forests of Mindanao, Samar, Leyte and the Cordilleras.
PEF executive director Dennis Salvador said the incident underscores the continuing decline in the endangered Eagle population even in the most protected territories.
He called on Filipinos to be more involved in the protection of Philippine raptors, saying, “We cannot be complacent – that the protection of our national bird cannot be left to our forest guards but should be the responsibility of everyone.”
Joshua Donato, PEF senior field biologist, established the raptor’s identity after checking on the bird’s leg band while resident veterinarian Anna Lascano immediately performed treatment.
It appeared that Matatag fractured his right wing after the x-ray showed scattered pieces of bones and shrapnel.
Donato charged the Aparesio brothers, who are detained at the Baguio police station, for violating Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.