Online plan to boost Philippine eagle numbers

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AFP File Photo

MANILA – The mating rituals of two captive Philippine eagles are being broadcast live over the Internet to rally global support for saving of the world’s rarest and biggest raptors, conservationists said Thursday.

Livestreaming the pair gives a global Internet audience a rare insight into the courtship, mating and chick-rearing habits of the birds, which could soon become extinct, said Philippine Eagle Foundation spokesman Rolando Pinsoy.

“This will give everyone a chance to learn more about this species and understand why we have to save them,” Pinsoy told AFP.

Customarily, the female lays a single egg in November or December and the chick hatches a month later, he said.

In a project backed by the US-based Raptor Resource Project and the Internet videosharing site Ustream.tv, the pair can now be viewed 24 hours a day over the next 12 months at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/29615691

“Even for biologists, there is so much more that we need to learn about this species,” Pinsoy said.

The Philippine eagle, or Pithecophaga jefferyi, is the world’s largest eagle in terms of length. It is found only in the country’s vanishing forests, where hunting, logging and land conversion all threaten its survival.

The bird, with a distinctive shaggy and cream-coloured crest, grows to up to 3.35 feet (one metre) in length with a wing span of up to seven feet.

According to the foundation and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, there are only about between 180 to 500 pairs in the wild.

The two eagles involved in the livestreaming project have both been rescued from hunters, rehabilitated and paired, Pinsoy said.

They have regularly been producing chicks for the foundation’s captive breeding programme near the southern city of Davao, he added.

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