Page last updated at 15:23 GMT, Tuesday, 22 July 2008 16:23 UK

Philippine farmer eats rare eagle

By Steve Jackson
BBC News

The Philippine eagle
The critically endangered Philippine eagle is a giant forest raptor

Prosecutors in the Philippines have been told to file charges against a farmer for killing and eating one of the world's rarest eagles.

The man faces up to 12 years in jail if he is found guilty of shooting the Philippine eagle earlier this month.

The bird is among the largest and most powerful eagles on Earth but it is also critically endangered.

Conservationists believe there are fewer than 250 adult birds left in the wild.

The story of what happened to one juvenile eagle in the southern Philippines has received widespread attention.

The remains of the bird were found in a national park two weeks ago.

The eagle had been rescued from captivity in 2006 and reintroduced into the wild in March this year with a tracking device.

When wildlife officials noticed that it had not moved for some time they began a search and found its skeleton and the transmitter under a tree.

A 22-year-old farmer, Brian Balaon, later came forward to say he had shot the eagle with an air gun and had eaten it with his friends. He said he did not know it was an endangered species.

But the Philippine environment secretary has called for the farmer to be punished severely to show that the authorities are serious about enforcing the wildlife protection laws.

If the farmer is found guilty he could be jailed for between six and twelve years.

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