Paje offers reward for arrest of Pamana’s killers
Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje has offered a P100,000 reward for the arrest of those responsible for the death of Philippine eagle “Pamana”.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of Pamana. This is not the first time that a Philippine eagle was shot to death. Those responsible for this barbaric act must be arrested and punished for committing this environmental crime,” Paje said.
He also said that while Pamana’s death was a setback to the country’s biodiversity conservation program, the government will continue to pursue its breeding program for the raptor through the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF).
Pamana, a three-year-old female Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), was found dead by biologists from the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) and forest guards at the Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary (MHRWS) in Davao Oriental last Sunday. A puncture and metal fragment on her right breast indicated she had died of a gunshot wound.
Paje has condemned the killing even as he called on law enforcement units in the province to assist regional environment officials in hunting down the perpetrators.
He said that the regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Protected Area Management Board of MHRWS and the Philippine Eagle Foundation are now conducting a full investigation on the incident.
“We are distressed that, despite intensified awareness campaigns by various stakeholders, some people still have a blatant disregard for our natural heritage, which, sadly, is what Pamana’s name means,” he lamented.
The environment chief also urged local residents to help authorities track down the killers.
Paje said that the critically endangered Philippine Eagle is protected under Republic Act No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act. As such, anyone found guilty of killing wildlife species can be imprisoned from six to 12 years, with a fine ranging from P100,000 to P1 million.
Moreover, illegal hunting within the MHWRS, which is a protected area, is also punishable by a jail term of six years and a fine of up to P500,000.
Pamana was released within the MHRWS just last June 12. Ironically, she was rehabilitated by the PEF after DENR personnel had rescued her from gunshot wounds three years ago.
In her necropsy report, PEF’s veterinarian Dr. Ana Lascano reported the bird was already in “advanced state of decomposition” when its carcass was found around one kilometer away from the release site in San Isidro, Davao Oriental. The estimated date of death was on August 10, when field workers observed that a transmitter attached to her back had stopped sending radio signals.
The Philippine eagle, hailed the “world’s noblest flier” by former aviator Charles Lindbergh, is considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
There are an estimated 400 pairs remaining in the wild today. ###