Sightings of “Agawid” in Central Luzon

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File photo of Agawid courtesy of Alfredo Collado, DER's provincial environment and natural resources officer of Aurora.

PUNDOHAN NG MGA DUMAGAT, Norzagaray, Bulacan — Several sightings of “Agawid” were reported in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range in the provinces of Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, and Rizal.

This was confirmed to RONDA BALITA Online in a telephone interview by Alfredo Collado, provincial environment and natural resources officer of Aurora.

As the country observes the culmination of the Philippine Eagle Week on Wednesday (June 10), Collado confirmed that several possible sightings of “Agawid” were reported by several Dumagat tribe people in the said four provinces.

Agawid was the juvenile Philippine Eagle that was caught in a snare inside the Aurora Memorial National Park in June 2016 and was turned over to the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) and was released back into the wild in October 2017 and its last official sighting was made on July 31, 2019 along the stretch of Lamig Creek in the park where it was released.

The Philippine Eagle Week (PEW) is celebrated every June 4-10 each year based on Presidential Proclamation No. 79 that aims to educate the public on the conservation of our National Bird, the Philippine Eagle, and its forest habitat.

This year’s celebration has the theme “Pangangalaga ng Agila at Kagubatan, Kalusugan ng Mamamayan” and highlights the significance of conserving eagles and other wildlife in general, and their habitats as a fundamental approach in managing the risk of emerging infectious diseases such as coronavirus.

The celebration this year is no different from the previous years, only that this year’s celebration came at a time when the country is facing the pandemic COVID-19 that is believed to have been acquired from wildlife.

On Thursday, Bro. Martin Francisco, chairperson of the Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society Inc. based in this town confirmed that there were alleged sightings of a Philippine Eagle inside the forested watersheds of Bulacan.

He said “Malamang na naitataboy o nasasaktan ang nasabing eagle dulot ng mga mapanirang iligal na gawain na di matigil-tigil sa kawalan ng sapat ng forest protection.”

Among the illegal activities being made on the forest cover of Sierra Madre Mountain Range are “timber poching, kaingin system, pag-uuling at pagpapalit gamit ng kagubatan tungo sa agrikultura at laganap na pagpasok ng mga informal settlers,” Francisco noted.

He added “Bilang isang NGO ang aming grupong SSMESI ay umaasa sa administrasyon ni Pangulong Duterte na mabibigyan na ng sapat na atensyon lakip ang political will na mapatigil na ang lahat ng iligal na gawain sa kagubatan upang masagip ang ating Philippines Eagle.”

Kanor del Rey, a Dumagat who has resettled in the Sierra Madre forest land in Rizal province, revealed to RONDA BALITA Online that he has found several months ago the remains of a monkey eaten by a Philippine Eagle that has a favorite tree in Mount Tukduang Banoy.

Collado said he is not discounting the possibility of the reported sightings of del Rey since the area that was cited is within the range of the territorial radius on the place Agawid was captured and eventually released.

Collado explained that before Agawid was released, radio telemetry was placed on the eagle by Rowell Taraya, who is a biologist from the Philippine Eagle Foundation, on October 4, 2017, and was the same person who replaced the batteries of the tracking device on April 11, 2018.

Collado added that regular monitoring by their Philippine Eagle team was made with biologist Algen Agua in July and August 2018, and said monitoring made last December by the team did not get any transmitter signal from the eagle’s tracking device.

Since then, no official sightings of the majestic Philippine Eagle has been recorded, Collado said but pointed that several sightings were allegedly been reported Dumagat indigenous people spread in different settlement sites within the provincial boundaries of Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Aurora, and Rizal.

Later this year, Collado said his team will try to track Agawid in Mount Miyan in the Nueva Ecija-Aurora boundary.

Meanwhile, Don Guevarra, DENR information officer in Region 3 said that besides the missing Agawid, several eagle species are also be found in Central Luzon forest cover.

Among these are the White Bellied Sea Eagle, Northern Philippine Hawk Eagle, Philippine Hawk Eagle, Serpent Eagle, and Braminy Kite, Guevarra added. (RONDA BALITA Online)

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