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Our Planet: Philippine Eagle in Danger of ExtinctionAired August 9, 2000 - 1:57 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: One of the world's most majestic birds is in danger of extinction.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Gary Strieker reports now on the effort to save the Philippine eagle.
GARY STRIEKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the these forests, every creature fears the airborne predator at the top of the food chain: the Philippine eagle, the world's largest bird of prey, and many say the most magnificent.
HECTOR MIRANDA, PHILIPPINE EAGLE FOUNDATION: Just like the American bald eagle, the Philippine eagle is a symbol of our nation.
STRIEKER: A symbol now critically endangered because most of its forest habitat has been destroyed.
MIRANDA: The eagle is disappearing because of human activity, the logging and everything. And we feel it is also our responsibility to save it from extinction.
STRIEKER: At the Philippine Eagle Center, visitors learn why saving the eagle, and the forest it needs to survive, can also help rescue thousands of other threatened plants and animals. It's their mission here to inspire a conservation ethic among people whose natural heritage has already been mostly squandered: forests chopped into small fragments, freshwater sources exhausted or polluted, marine fisheries depleted or poisoned by cyanide, causing economic hardship, deadly landslides and catastrophic floods.
Experts say the Philippines is on the top of the list of nations on the edge of environmental collapse, on the verge of losing most of the plant and animal species unique to these islands.
PERRY ONG, CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL: The next great mass extinction will happen in this country if things does not turn around within the next five to 10 years.
STRIEKER (on camera): There has already been so much lost in the Philippines that some conservationists now believe the situation here is hopeless. But others say there's still one last chance to save the wide variety of plant and animal species that can still be found here. (voice-over): At the Philippine Eagle Center, they believe in that last chance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we're trying to get people to come here and see what the eagles look like, and what all our other wildlife looks like.
STRIEKER: They combine this conservation education with other programs to encourage people in rural areas to protect their forests and wildlife, especially the Philippine eagle -- fewer than 500 still holding on in the wild.
MIRANDA: Whether they will survive or not in that small, fragmented pieces of lowland forest, we don't know yet.
STRIEKER: They do know they're working against the odds, but they've succeeded in breeding captive eagles, hatching chicks that will someday be released into the wild, living symbols of a natural heritage that is vanishing.
Gary Strieker, CNN, in Davao, Philippines.
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