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Indeed, with deforestation rates in the Philippines among the highest in the world (more than 90 percent of primary forest may have been lost to logging and development), the eagle has been reduced to a population estimated at several hundred breeding pairs.

Awareness about conservation issues, however, is rising in the Philippines. A series of devastating floods and mud slides in the past decade has convinced Filipinos that the loss of forest affects not just wildlife but people too. In recent years new protected land areas have been established in the Philippines; one, the 17,300-acre Cabuaya Forest, specifically protects the eagle. And in an effort to prevent the eagle population from dwindling further, the Philippine Eagle Foundation on Mindanao island is working to educate Filipinos about the bird, which was declared a national emblem in 1995. At least some of those who once would have shot an eagle for food or sport now let it soar unmolested.

Meanwhile, visitors to the foundation's education center can see more than a dozen eagles, some of which were rescued after they were trapped or shot. Twenty-one birds have been raised as part of a breeding program that aims someday to release birds back into restored habitat on the Philippine Islands. Will the efforts be enough? Perhaps. The first surviving chick in that program just celebrated his 16th birthday. When he was born he was given the name Pag-asa, the Tagalog word for hope

Klaus Nigge lives in Germany. This is his third story for National Geographic. Mel White, who lives in Arkansas, has been hooked on birds since childhood.
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