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  • The Philippine Eagle International Partnership to Rescue a Living Icon

    The Philippine Eagle is a lasting symbol of national pride but it is rapidly falling victim to economic expansion. While the world’s largest eagle is among the most pow- erful predators in the sky, it is powerless against deforestation. The remaining 500–700 individuals rely on the remnants of old- growth forests that once covered much of the Philippine Islands. If these forests are lost, the eagle and an unknown number of other species will disappear with them. Realizing the urgency, a powerful bi-national partnership is leading a new initiative to in- spire the preservation of the remaining habitat and to help new generations of eagles flourish for future generations of Filipinos, and the world. Actual protection is possible, as the Filipino peo- ple have shown before.

    In 1977, a team of biologists and cinematographers document- ed Philippine Eagles in unprecedented detail. The team spent 18 months researching and filming a creature few people knew anything about, capturing the intimate moments of the eagles’ lives and their struggle to survive. The resulting documentary, “To Live and be Free,” was distributed throughout the country.

  • The Partners NEIL RETTIG PRODUCTIONS: Neil is one of the most celebrated natural history cinematographers work- ing today, contributing to hundreds of documentaries for National Geographic, BBC, Discovery and IMAX. He’s a recognized expert in raptors, especially the great rainfor- est eagles, and has been recognized with a Service Silver Eagle Award for Conservation from the United States Fish and Wildlife Department.

    CORNELL LAB OF ORNITHOLOGY: The Cornell Lab is a world leader in the study, appreciation, and con- servation of birds. Its hallmarks are scientific excellence and technological innovation to advance the understand- ing of nature and to engage people of all ages in learning about birds and protecting the planet. This conservation media project is part of the Lab’s global program to use media to enhance conservation outcomes.

    PHILIPPINE EAGLE FOUNDATION: The Mission of the PEF is based on the belief that the fate of the Philip- pine Eagle, the health of the environment, and the quality of Philippine life are inextricably linked. The foundation has its roots in a government program launched in the 1970s, with help from the Peace Corps and American avi- ator Charles Lindberg. Taking leadership of the initiative in 1987, the foundation is entrusted with the management

    Today, the demand for natural resources in the Philippines has placed the future of the eagle in doubt. While por- tions of the 35 year-old film continue to be used for ed- ucation, the public’s awareness and depth of support for the long-term protection are critically low. A new gener- ation of outreach media is needed to re-inspire the pub- lic—to show the eagle not as a part of the country’s past, but as a living symbol of its future.

    Currently, 86% of the endemic bird species in the Philip- pines are listed as threatened or worse. By protecting the eagles and their habitat, more than just one species will be saved—27 other threatened bird species as well as all of the non-avian biodiversity of these unique rain forests will be positively impacted.

    Neil Rettig, leader of the original film team, has gone on to become one of the premier wildlife cinematographers in the world. He has joined forces with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a leading institute in the science and conser- vation of birds, and the Philippine Eagle Foundation on a collaborative project to create the next generation of outreach media: a one-hour documentary for domestic and international audiences, educational media designed for Philippine schools, online resources available free over the internet and a social media initiative to mobilize support amongst youth. It is a multi-platform media cam- paign to advance conservation.

  • NOVEMBER 2013–APRIL 2014

    • Launch of the 6 month filming expedition of wild Philippine Eagles on the island of Mindanao, led by Neil Rettig with full production crew;

    • Installation and operation of live web cam, feeding high definition video to world-wide audiences;

    • Simultaneous development of educational media components with Filipino educational leaders, social media strategy with TWBA public relations firm, and online resources with Cornell Lab web production group.

    LATE SPRING / SUMMER 2014

    • Writing and editing of the Filipino language documentary, “Return of the Eagle”;

    • Creation of educational materials and online resources;

    • Finalization of social media strategy.

    WINTER 2014

    • Manila Premiere Event, launching the multi-platform conservation initiative, and hosted by Dennis Salvador, Executive Director of the Philippine Eagle Foundation and Dr. John Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, with distinguished guests of the Philippine Department of the Environment;

    • Broadcast of the one-hour documentary, “Return of the Eagle”;

    • Launch of the social media campaign and public service announcements;

    • Delivery of educational materials to Philippine schools.

    of the species, including supervision of the nation’s only captive breeding program.

    The Filming Expedition The centerpiece of the media effort is a 6-month filming expedition that launches in the fall of 2013. PEF biologists will lead scout teams to identify suitable nest locations for the project. When the ideal nest is identified, blinds will be constructed at heights up to 50m that will be durable enough to hold team members and equipment for the 25 weeks of dedicated filming. The comprehensive coverage in Ultra High Definition video, digital photography and high fidelity audio recordings are intended to capture:

    • portraiture and behavior of adult and new-born Philippine Eagles, including nest behavior, feeding and brooding chicks; the parents flying into and near the nest with prey; hunting behavior;

    • prey species and other endemic wildlife (e.g., flying lemurs, monkeys, hornbill, Philippine deer);

    • the natural ecosystem of the forest under-story and canopy;

    • dimensions of human population and use of the forests

    • historic patterns of deforestation, residual logging operations, and mining;

    • Philippine Eagle Foundation activities (captive breeding efforts, wild nest monitoring, educational outreach activities, interviews with conservationists).

    The Campaign Strategy The fundamental objective of this initiative is to reestab- lish the Philippine Eagle as a symbol of national pride and unity. To achieve this goal, over the next twelve months, the partnership will execute an unprecedented multi-plat- form conservation media campaign.