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Environment and local officials, with representatives from environment groups, take a last look at eagle Raquel before she is set free to the wilds in Isabela’s Sierra Madre ranges.

 

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya — After a year of treatment from injuries sustained from an animal trap, “Raquel” has finally gone back to the Isabela wilds, the second Philippine eagle to be set free.

On May 6, Raquel was freed in San Mariano town’s Sierra Madre Mountain Range, in the remote Casala village.

Listed as one of the world’s most endangered species, the Philippine Eagle, also known as the Great Philippine Eagle or Monkey-eating Eagle, is among the world’s rarest, largest and most powerful birds.

“Every Philippine eagle counts for its population to increase. We should not lose our national bird,” said Theresa Lim, director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB).

Isabela provincial environment and natural resources officer William Savella said Raquel is expected to find her own territory and a future mate in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, said to be the last stronghold of the bird species in Luzon.

Under the law, anyone caught hunting and killing or engaging the bird species for commercial purposes can be imprisoned, fined or both.

Earlier reports have said that only around 500 Philippine eagles remain in the country, most of which are found in the Sierra Madre forests and in Samar, Leyte and Mindanao.

On hand to see Raquel’s flight to freedom were representatives from the DENR, local officials and conservationist groups like the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF), Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation and Mabuwaya Foundation.

Before her release, Raquel was installed with a radio and satellite-tracking device provided by PEF executive director Dennis Salvador for monitoring purposes.

San Mariano town Mayor Edgar Go said that the eagle that came to be known as Raquel had been brought to him sometime in April last year by a hunter who rescued her from a trap meant for pigs and deer in coastal Dinapigue town’s Diwagao village.

Since then, the Go family had cared for the bird and took care of its injuries, and even named it after a family member who passed away recently.

Last month, PAWB veterinarians and the provincial veterinary office, as well as representatives from the Bureau of Animal Industry-Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory deemed Raquel fit for release after undergoing a series of physical and clinical tests.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said he was pleased that Raquel was able to regain her strength.

“This symbolizes the Filipino’s strength and love for freedom and is an indication of the condition of our forest ecosystem,” he said.