Do the eagle wing slap challenge

THE PHILIPPINE Eagle Foundation is strengthening its social media campaigns because the young people they hope to reach are mostly online.

Making strides in social media, the foundation is hoping that their latest campaign will catch fire in time for the 18th Philippine Eagle Week (from June 4-12).

Social media users are encouraged to make a video of themselves  doing a Philippine Eagle wing slap, a movement that expresses the bird’s behavior when showing aggression in the face of danger.

“This simple gesture also signifies the call to strengthen enforcement of existing wildlife protection and environmental laws,” said PEF education administrator Rai Gomez during yesterday’s Kapehan sa Dabaw.

Gomez invited people to tag PEF through the hashtags #PhilEagleWeek2016, #WingSlapMovement, and their Instagram account @phileaglefdn.

The Philippine Eagle Week will start on June 4 with a parade from People’s Park to NCCC Mall at 6 AM. Opening ceremonies will be held in NCCC Mall’s activity center.

An interactive exhibit will also be mounted from June 5 to 10 in The Annex of SM City Davao. Bird watching activities and animal encounter sessions will also be held in the PEF center on June 11 and 12. An open house and family day will also be held on June 12 in the PEF center.

Through Presidential Proclamation no. 79 of 1999, the Philippine Eagle Week is celebrated every year to enjoin different sectors in society to take action on protection and conservation of the national bird.

PEF executive director Dennis Salvador is hoping that these activities help the public to have a national consciousness to support the Philippine Eagle.

Increase on visits noted

The Foundation has noted an incremental increase in visitor traffic in their 8.4-hectare center in Malagos in the first quarter of 2016 and calls for more volunteers to make their operations optimal.

Gomez said that a 10 percent increase in visitor traffic was observed from January to May of 2016 compared to the same time last year.

Events in the center–like free bird watching every first Saturday of the month and animal encounters during weekends–contributed to this increase.

A daily average of 200 people visits the center, which is home to 60 species of birds other than the Philippine Eagle.

Gomez added that operations in their center are largely powered by volunteers, but this manpower is scarce.

“We need more people to educate others,” she said.

She said that they are eyeing on strengthening mechanisms to motivate more students to volunteer (like putting a premium on the experience by giving the additional school credits).

There are currently 15 active college student volunteers in PEF. Most of them are biology students.

PEF is also strengthening social media campaigns because young people that they hope to reach are mostly online.

Ideally, PEF operations are at their best if there are at least five or more daily volunteers.

Tours in the center, she said, are currently scheduled due to limited man power. There are only four education officers in their center, Gomez said.

These tours can be more versatile if more volunteers sign up. Volunteers can easily sign up in the website of PEF.

PEF is also optimistic that the upcoming administration will look into environmental conservation as a priority.

PEF communication officer Kikko Kalabud said that they are hoping that incoming president Rodrigo Duterte will strengthen existing environment and wildlife laws, and impose “political will” to actually put these into action.

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