In 2014, a Haribon research team trekked the ridges and valleys of Mt. Mingan in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range in search of Philippine Eagles (Pithecophaga jefferyi), sighted by a group of botanists conducting studies in the area. Traversing the steep slopes and narrow paths of the mountain while carrying fragile equipment like binoculars, spotting scopes, DSLR cameras, and telephoto lenses on top of camping equipment and a week’s worth of food supplies was nothing short of an achievement in itself.
Though the journey was difficult, the challenging trek did pay off as the Haribon researchers confirmed the presence of a juvenile and a pair of adult Haring Ibon (King of Birds or Philippine Eagles) in the Mingan Mountains.
The protection begins
Protection of the Philippine Eagle has always been a priority. After the discovery in Mt. Mingan, the municipal governments surrounding the mountain namely Gabaldon, Dingalan and San Luis, with the help of the Haribon Foundation and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) developed plans for the conservation of the mountain range. One of the identified priority interventions to protect the forests of Mingan is its declaration as a Critical Habitat (CH) for the protection and conservation of the Haring Ibon.
Fast forward to 2015, the plans formed in the previous year are now coming to fruition. Social surveys are being conducted to learn more about Mt. Mingan’s biological and socio-economic importance to local communities surrounding it. Subsequently, field surveys are also scheduled to verify other reported Philippine Eagle sightings all over Mt. Mingan. The information that will be gathered through these surveys will be used to develop specific conservation measures for the Mingan Mountains.
The next step: a protective web of community-led habitat protection
Mt. Mingan is now on its way to becoming a network of Critical Habitats (CH) for the protection of Philippine Eagles. Gabaldon paved the way by issuing an ordinance declaring 19,000 hectares of forests as a CH while Dingalan and San Luis are in the process of following suit. Key stakeholders from Mt. Mingan are scheduled to convene and discuss the formulation of their respective Critical Habitat Management Plans (CHMPs) and the training and deputation of Wildlife Enforcement Officers (WEO) for forest protection. These activities put Mt. Mingan ahead of other sites in conserving the Philippine Eagles of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range.
The conservation of Philippine Eagles does not stop at declaring Critical Habitats, producing plans and monitoring forests. The real challenge is educating people from all walks of life about the importance of the birds, forests and biodiversity and instilling a sense of responsibility to protect our natural resources.
- Documented the first sighting of the Philippine Eagle in Mt. Mingan, Nueva Ecija. Post-Survey Philippine Eagle Monitoring in Mingan Mountains shows the juvenile is still present. Locals named the Philippine eagle “Gab-e” short for “Gabaldon eagle”
- Formed Mt. Mingan Coordinating Body which is comprised of several stakeholders from the municipalities of Gabaldon, Nueva Ecija, and San Luis and Dingalan in Aurora Province.
- Joined the Gabaldon Foundation Day celebration highlighting the Philippine Eagle sighted in Mt. Mingan. Around 3000 people attended the event.
- Purposive Survey conducted in Umiray, General Nakar Quezon. An individual Philippine Eagle was observed during the survey. Potential Philippine Eagle prey items were also observed such as monitor lizards, flying foxes and the Philippine warty pig.
- Identified a Flying Fox Roost in General Nakar, possible prey of Philippine Eagle.
- Conducted orientations on biodiversity for 800 students from 8 schools in Gabaldon and 3 schools in General Nakar.
More about Gab-e’s home
Mts. Mingan and Hamiguitan and the healthy forests within, provide important ecological services to preserve human life such as clean air, safe water, fertile soils and protection from extreme weathers. The country needs 54% forest cover to sustain and stabilize nature’s ecological services. Currently, the country is down to 24% according to the Department of Environment and natural resources (DENR) estimates according to their definition of forest.
Haribon Foundation calls on communities, public and private organizations, institutions and groups to support efforts to protect the country’s remaining natural forests and expand areas to protect forests.
Beyond tree planting activities, Haribon encourages the planting of indigenous and endemic tree species to the area, and the support of the Forest Resources Bill, to help prevent further forest from being encroached upon.
To do all this we need your support, donate to the Haribon Foundation today: Donate now.
October 2011 – September 2013
Current donors: Swedish Ornithological Society and Toyota Foundation through BirdLife International
Photo and write-up of Gab-e by Wildlife Researcher J Kahlil Panopio.