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1st RP eagle owl bred in captivity

Article Date: 2005-12-15   Source:   Comments: 0

Bacolod City, Philippines - A first in Philippine wildlife conservation efforts has been achieved in Negros Occidental with the birth of ''Bubo.''

The Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation Inc. (NFEFI) yesterday announced that it has successfully bred in captivity a threatened and endangered Philippine Eagle Owl.

This is the first time that a Philippine-Eagle Owl, whose scientific name is Bubo philippensis, has been hatched in captivity, said Gerry Ledesma, NFEFI chair.

Nicknamed "Bubo," the owlet is the offspring of Suplada and Hinahon. He was hatched on Nov. 21.

Ledesma said the owlet's name was just temporary. He said a contest to name the owlet would be held in January among children visiting the NFEFI zoo along South Capitol Road, in the heart of Bacolod City.

Bubo's sex is not determined yet until the owlet is fully feathered, he said.

The Philippine Eagle Owl, known as "kuwago" or "bukao," is endemic to the Philippines and is in the critically endangered list, Ledesma said.

As part of its captive breeding program, NFEFI's Biodiversity Conservation Center, acquired three female and three male Eagle Owls from the Avilon Zoological Park in Rizal through the Philippine Owls Conservation Program, NFEFI trustee Robert Harland said.

Only two pairs have successfully mated, and had several unfruitful attempts at breeding earlier this year, he said. It was only on Oct. 13 that an egg from Suplada was discovered, which she successfully incubated and hatched on Nov. 21, he said.

"The first week of the owlet's life was crucial especially as this was the first time the parents have reared a chick," said Dr. Leo Suarez, BCC curator.

"We are closely monitoring the owlet and we're delighted to report it seems healthy and growing fast," he said.

Little is known about the breeding biology of the Philippine Eagle Owl so Suarez said he and his team are collecting as much data as possible to have a better understanding of the species.

"We are thrilled with the arrival of the owlet. We congratulate Dr. Leo Suarez and his team on being the first to breed this threatened species in captivity. Their hard work and patience have paid off," Ledesma said.

The Philippine Eagle Owl, the largest species of owl in the country, has a small, severely fragmented population that is undergoing a rapid decline as a result of extensive lowland deforestation, he said.

It has lengthened feathers above and behind the eye known as "horns" and "ear tufts." Its conservation status is that of "vulnerable," an internationally and nationally protected species whose trade is prohibited, Ledesma said.

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