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'Doomsday' looms for 17 endemic Philippine birds

Manila Bulletin
by Alexander D. Lopez
March 2, 2014


Birdwatching sites in Zamboanga City visited by delegates
of the Philippine Bird Festival..

Zamboanga City – About 17 endemic birds in the Philippines are “critically” facing extinction if no comprehensive measure would be implemented to save their remaining number in identified areas in the country.

This alarming statement was made by Khalil Panopio, a wildlife biologist from the Haribon Foundation, during the launching of the 9th Philippine Bird Festival in this city over the weekend.

BIRD FESTIVAL – Members of a contingent perform their number during the launching of the 9th Philippine Bird Festival in Zamboanga City over the weekend. (Alexander D. Lopez)

BIRD FESTIVAL – Members of a contingent perform their number during the launching of the 9th Philippine Bird Festival in Zamboanga City over the weekend. (Alexander D. Lopez)

“There are about 600 plus birds that can be found in the country, and about 120 are considered endemic here,” Panopio said.

But of the total number of endemic bird species in the Philippines, at least 17 of these are already considered critically endangered right now, he added.

“Kung walang interventions na gagawin for these species, there is a high chance, or about 50 to 80 percent, na mamamatay sila, at mawala na sa wild in the next 10 years,” Panopio lamented.

Among the bird species that Panopio identified include the Philippine Eagle, the Sulu Horn Bill, the Sulu Bleeding Heart, and the horn bills in Mindanao.
“It has been about 100 years since the last sighting of the Sulu Bleeding Heart,” he said.
Raising the awareness of the people will help save the endemic birds in the country, said Juan Carlos Gonzales, a member of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, and a teacher from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).
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“The Philippines is a hotspot for conservation because we have a lot of endemic species of birds, at malaki na rin ang nangyayaring degradation ng forests natin,” Gonzales said.
He added that the wild bird club is now into awareness campaigns to reach out to the people to get involved in the preservation of the country’s diversities.