Farmer arrested for killing, eating rare Philippines eagle: officials

Yahoo News 18 Jul 08;

A farmer has been detained by southern Philippines police after he confessed to shooting and eating one of the world's largest and rarest eagles, wildlife officials told AFP on Friday.

The July 10 attack on the two-year-old, four-kilogram (8.8-pound) male eagle on the slopes of Mount Kitanglad on Mindanao island was deemed a major setback in attempts to save the critically endangered species from extinction.

The bird, nicknamed "Kagsabua", had only been released back into the wild four months earlier after it was shot and wounded with a lead pellet by game hunters in the Kitanglad range.

A radio tracking device attached to the eagle and later buried by the 20-year-old suspect led to the arrest on Wednesday, officials said.

Killing endangered species is punishable by a 12-year prison term and stiff fines.

Fewer than 250 adult Pithecophaga jefferyi, with a two-metre (6.6-foot) wingspan and magnificent mantle of feathers on its nape, are estimated to be left in the Philippines, and are found nowhere else, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

"He was worth more than a brother to me," said a devastated Philippine Eagle Foundation biologist Giovanni Tampus, part of a four-member team who had tracked the bird daily after its release back into the wild.

Kagsabua was the second Philippine eagle to be killed after being released by the foundation.

"The suspect told police he thought it was an ordinary bird," Daniel Somera, the deputy park superintendent of Kitanglad, told AFP.

"The bird fell off the tree dead. The shooter got rattled when it found the radio transmitter on its back and so he buried it. But he and two friends later dressed the carcass and cooked two kilograms of meat," Somera added.