Fewer than 250 adult Philippine eagles (Pithecophaga jefferyi) are left. The national bird of the Philippines – one of the 34 Biodiversity Hotspots where CI works globally – this regal bird stands more than 3 feet tall and flaunts a headdress of spiky feathers. It is one of the largest and rarest birds of prey in the world.
Philippine eagles require tall trees and large swaths of lowland rain forest to hunt for their prey. But precious little habitat remains, and today, the eagle can only be found on the islands of Luzon, Mindanao, Samar, and Leyte.
Even here, forest destruction continues at a rapid pace. Logging and mining companies already lease rights to much of the remaining land. Hunting for food, trophies, and illegal trade are direct threats to the last remaining birds. Although attempts at captive breeding have achieved some success in the last few years, habitat protection is still the best option for the eagle’s long-term survival.
There is hope, however. CI-Philippines was instrumental in bringing together five nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) as the Alliance for Philippine Eagle Conservation, which focuses on research, protecting key nesting habitat, and supporting local communities in conservation. We are working closely with local partners in the Sierra Madre Biodiversity Conservation Corridor to help raise awareness and devise strategies to save the bird’s remaining habitat.
We have also successfully identified a network of priority sites, known as Key Biodiversity Areas, to help conserve the Philippines’ unique biodiversity. These sites have now formed the core of the nation’s new biodiversity policy, which mandates the management and protection of critical habitat under the Philippine Wildlife Act. This provides the framework – and the promise – for conservation investments that can ensure a future for the Philippine eagle and many other threatened species.
Stop the Clock on Species Extinction