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Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi)

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She soars high above, with her mighty wings gliding with grace and steadiness. There is no beauty like the Philippine Eagle in the sky.

Also known as the monkey-eating eagle, this endangered bird is one of the largest in the world. Given the scientific name Pithecophaga jefferyi, it is found only in the Philippines and lives in the rainforests of Isabela, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao. It has similarities with Papua New Guinea's Harpy Eagle (Harpyopsis novaeguinea).

Measuring about one meter in height, the average Philippine eagle has gray and white underparts, bluish bill, yellow feet and dark brown tail. The adult eagle has generally dark brown dorsal feathers with a fluffy white chest. Its most noticeable feature is its 76-centimeter highly arched, powerful bill.

It lives on large snakes, hornbills, civet cats, flying lemurs and monkeys - the reason why it is also called monkey-eating eagle. It creates its nests in large trees on natural platforms some 30 meters off the ground.

With an estimated population of 100 to 300 today, the Philippine eagle is in danger of extinction. It is one of the 400 exotic bird species in the Philippines which, if not protected, will disappear from the face of the Earth. Along with the Philippine cockatoo, Palawan peacock pheasant, Mindoro imperial pigeon, Sulu hornbill and Cebu black shama, the Philippine Eagle might follow the Cebu flowerpecker which is now presumed extinct.

The main reason for this is the unabated denudation of the Philippine rainforests where these birds take refuge. With 123,000 hectares of forest cover being lost every year to illegal logging, Philippine forests will be completely denuded by the year 2036, according to a study made by Philippine Congress.

In 1972, the country had about 10.4 million hectares of natural forests covering 34 percent of the country's total land area of 30 million hectares. Only 17 years later, this had been reduced to 6.16 hectares or only 20.52 percent of the total land area.

Efforts are now being focused at preserving the remnants of the Philippine Eagle. In 1992, the Philippine Eagle Foundation hatched the first Philippine Eagle ever produced in captivity. The chick was named Pag-Asa which means "hope." A second chick was named Pagkakaisa, which stands for "unity." On February 23, 1999, the foundation successfully hatched an eagle out of a natural pair. The young eaglet was named Pangarap which means "dream".

In an effort to drive national sentiments towards preserving this natural heritage, Malacañang proclaimed June 4-10 as Philippine Eagle Week. According to Malacañang, the proclamation will ''instill into the minds of the Filipino people the importance of the Philippine eagle as a biological indicator of the forest ecosystems, as a national symbol and as a unique heritage."

The Philippine Eagle has come to symbolize all efforts by the Filipino people to save the remaining rain forests and preserve the wealth of the nation for the future generation.

The Philippine Eagle is found only in the Philippines.

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