I was outraged when I read this news yesterday. And I continue to seethe.
“Three-year-old Philippine Eagle named Pamana [heritage] was found dead two months after she was released into the wild. She sustained a fatal gunshot wound in her right chest, according to the Philippine Eagle Foundation [PEF] Executive Director Dennis Salvador.”
This endangered Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) flew to freedom on June 12 after being cared for and brought back to health at PEF, which found her suffering from two gunshot wounds. There are now only about 400 left of these endangered birds. And every day, they face threats of being killed. They are also losing their homes due to deforestation.
This was the subject of a story written by my third son, JR, when he was in grade school. This same story I unearthed when I began writing full-time in the year 2000. We named the eagle in the story, Malaya (freedom). After JR and I polished it, we sent it to Dennis Salvador, at that time waging a war against illegal hunters.
Aimed at bringing awareness to the rampant killing of this Philippine treasure, and hopefully help stop this merciless act, the book was published by Caltex Philippines, an advocate for the preservation of the environment.
"Fly, Malaya, Fly!" (illustrated by Longlong Pesquira) was launched in Davao City in 2001.
Fifteen years later, today, the awareness has been achieved, I think, but the shooting has not stopped!
This bird, with a wingspan spreading up to seven feet and therefore the largest eagle in the world, is now a critically-endangered species.
People found guilty of killing critically endangered species can face jail sentences of up to 12 years, and fines of up to P1 million (Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act).
Yet, these criminals are running around loose and are on a shooting spree.
Is there hope?
With PEF, determined to be a steward of God’s flying creations, I want to remain hopeful. My prayer is that after Pamana, no Philippine eagle will be killed ever again—and that we all become good stewards of His every grace.
Photo of Pamana: From the Province of Davao Oriental FB page