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Largest eagle in the world lives in the ancestral land of Lake Sebu's lumads
It is rare that one comes face to face with the most ferocious and piercing eyes that silently say "I see you" 19 times better and clearer than the human eyes -
Lake Sebu, Mindanao
A huge bird of prey got entangled in a fisherman’s net in the pristine waters of Lake Sebu, a hinterland town two thousand feet above sea level and populated by six indigenous tribes of South Cotabato. The Rufus Hornbill (Kalaw) chased the young Philippine Eagle off its territory causing it to crash into the lake’s waters.
The fish pen owner who grappled with the largest eagle in the world subdued the forest top predator into submission not without a bloody fight and cuts to his arms and shoulders. Fearing the worst fate to befall the mighty and “Angry Bird”, I was tasked by the Sta. Cruz Mission of Lake Sebu to secure the release of the eagle from captivity. After some successful negotiations I brought the bird to the Sta. Cruz Mission, Lem Ehek Center where a huge cage was constructed and called the Philippine Eagle Conservation Authority based in Davao City.
2007 research data from the Conservation International revealed that fewer than 250 adult Philippine Eagles are left in the Philippines. The largest eagle in the world , the Philippine Eagle, the National Bird of the Philippines (Pithecophaga Jeffereyi) is one of the rarest eagle and most threatened raptors in the world. It has large powerful claws, heavy yellow legs and bluish grey large bill. It grows bigger than 91 centimeters with a wingspan of two meters. The adult which can live more than 60 years weigh as much as 65 kilograms. It is said that the Philippine Eagle has 19 times better and sharper vision than humans during the day.
Visitors from as far as Manila, Davao City and Cotabato provinces came to view the large and majestic raptor.
After a few months, it was determined that the eagle has regained its health and can be released into the tropical forest of Lake Sebu.
With three of us from the Sta. Cruz Mission getting ready to take the blindfolds off, release our hold on its mighty wings and powerful claws, I was given the privilege of lifting and swinging the eagle up into the sky and into freedom to take its place as the top predator and barometer of the health of one of Mindanao’s remaining tropical forest .
Sightings were reported of the eagle along the Southern Mindanao and Daguma Mountain ranges. But every now and then it returns and make a pass along the 500 hectare -wide Lake Sebu waters.
Edwin Cordero Mercurio