By Leilanie G. Adriano
CALANASAN, Apayao, Jan 5 (PNA) –The thickly forested municipality of Calanasan and its people vowed to conserved at least 3,000 hectares devoted as a sanctuary of wildlife species especially for the endangered Philippine eagle, freshwater fishes and other wild animals Apayao is known for as its breeding ground.
Former Apayao congressman and now the municipal mayor of Calanasan Elias Bulut Sr. said each of the 20 barangays (villages) that composed the municipality maintains a sanctuary or a protected area where no one is allowed to enter this site.
In Apayao, there are at least two types of protected areas. This is by natural tradition of the Isneg tribe here or by law declared by concerned authorities.
Once declared as a sanctuary, Bulut said that nobody is allowed to trespass in this protected area while a lapat system, is a natural tradition of the Indigenous Peoples here to declare a certain private area as protected in honor of the death of a love one. Unlike a sanctuary, a lapat area can be lifted after sometime or a year after the death anniversary of a family member.
Violators are subjected to a corresponding penalty to be decided by a forest council mostly composed of elders.
In 2011 or barely three years ago, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Cordillera Administrative Region and the Philippine Eagle Foundation confirmed several sightings that the Philippine eagle in the lowland forest of sitio Salagunting in Eva Gardens village in Calansan. A year later, more sightings were recorded in at least two areas in Mt. Lambayo in Barangay Lydia, Pudtol and in Mt. Asi, Baliwanan, in Kabugao.
So far, Bulut reported that at least 23 adult eagles were already identified in Apayao province. These endangered Philippine eagles breed in Apayao and they soar high to the Sierra Madre Mountain in neighboring province of Cagayan.
According to the Philippine Eagle Foundation, the Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) is a giant forest raptor endemic to the Philippines. It is considered one of the largest and most powerful eagles in the world.
Unfortunately, it is also one of the worlds rarest and certainly among its most critical endangered vertebrate species. The eagle is known to be geographically restricted to the islands of Luzon, Samar, Leyte, and Mindanao.
Taking pride of the Apayao Mountains as one of the last remaining frontier of endangered species of flora and fauna, the Indigenous Peoples here keep their traditions alive such as declaring some areas within their land domains as a community conservation area to ensure that these wildlife species will lasts from generation to generation.(PNA)