A Philippine court fined a man around $2,300 for shooting and eating one of the rarest eagles in the world, according to media reports.
In 2008, Bryan Balaon shot, killed, and ate a Philippine eagle, a critically endangered species with only 180 to 500 left in the world. Killing an endangered species in the Philippines can normally net a 12-year prison sentence and steep fines.
The court’s fine was widely panned by conservation groups, who said the eagle’s killer got off too easy.
“I expected the court could appreciate the value of what we lost here,” Philippine Eagle Foundation Executive Director Dennis Salvador told Minda News. The eagle is considered the country’s national bird.
While Balaon’s trial was “successful,” the verdict “does not augur well for the enforcement of the country’s wildlife laws,” Salvador added.
Balaon’s lawyer, Alvy Damasco, told Minda News his client will appeal the fine. “We lost but don’t worry, we will appeal this. At least there is no imprisonment,” Damasco was quoted as saying.
The verdict was handed down just weeks after a report emerged that mining in Surigao del Sur Province, where many of the eagles are located, is pushing the species to the brink of extinction.
“If you mine, you have to cut down the trees,” which will further imperil the eagle’s population, William Hotchkiss, the president of the Philippine Eagle Foundation, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.