Dabawenyos urged to raise awareness of endemic birds in Davao City

Philippine Hanging Parrot
Philippine Hanging ParrotPhoto credit to Big Year Davao

A DAVAO-based bird watchers group encourages Dabawenyos to engage in birdwatching to increase awareness of endemic birds in Davao City.

Big Year Davao President and Wildlife Consultant of Malagos Garden Resort Benito Anthony Pingoy said in a media interview on Saturday morning, November 4, that they promote birdwatching in Davao City to increase the awareness of endemic birds, not only the Philippine Eagle but other smaller birds that are residing in the area.

Photo credit to Big Year Davao

Pingoy told the media that apart from the Philippine Eagle there are other species of bird in the city that are critically endangered such as the Philippine Hanging Parrot. This parrot is well known for its colorful feathers of green, red, orange, and yellow. He noted how this species has been a favorite of the poachers to trap for it is a prized pet among the people in Baguio District. 

In the administrative order of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) number 2019-09 updated list, the Philippine Hanging Parrot commonly known as Colasisi is critically endangered.

“Critically endangered ang Philippine Hanging Parrot kay ang reason kay poaching pero daghan gihapon kaayo ang poaching karon so para asa ang declaration nga halos kada balay muadtu kag upland community naay Philippine Hanging Parrot sa ilahang balay. So ang declaration sa DENR wala na enforce (The Philippine Hanging Parrot is critically endangered and the reason for that is poaching but as we observed there are still numerous cases of poaching that are happening in the upland community where each house has a Philippine Hanging Parrot. So the declaration of the DENR is not enforced),” Pingoy said. 

He added that the public should start small in protecting birds that are endemic in the country “Kung dili nato ma-appreciate tung Pirok-Pirok, Yellow Vented Bulbul, dili nato ma-appreciate tung Maya layo na kaayo nang Philippine Eagle (If we cannot appreciate the Pirok-Pirok, Yellow Vented Bulbul if we cannot appreciate the Maya, then it would be far fetched that we can appreciate the Philippine Eagle),” he said.

Lack of awareness

Meanwhile, Peter Simpson, an English professional bird guide, who has been settling here in Davao since 2010, emphasized that there is ‘sadly very little interest in birdwatching in the Philippines’.

Simpson pointed out how textbooks used in educating small children in schools are copied from the United States of America. For instance, when talking about protecting the country’s biodiversity there are pictures of America’s Bald Eagle. Simpson said that there are other endemic birds here in the Philippines that need protection. 

There is also difficulty in accessing birdwatching books in the Philippines. Simpson said that these types of books are not available in bookstores or bookshops in the country although they can be imported but their hefty price makes it difficult to acquire them. 

Walteheart Epifanio, a fourth-year college student, told SunStar Davao on Sunday afternoon, November 5, that he does not know what birdwatching is and that he is unaware that there is birdwatching here in the city. He, however, expressed his willingness to participate in the activity should the opportunity arise in order to broaden his knowledge about birds.

“Honestly, dili ko aware na naay birdwatching here sa Davao. Tapos no idea ko kung unsa ang birdwatching, pero willing ko make-learn about birdwatching (Honestly, I am not aware that there is birdwatching here in Davao and I have no idea what is birdwatching but I am willing to learn about it),” Epifanio said. 

Melissa Onso, a teacher, said that she only saw birdwatching online and that if given the chance she would participate in one since she would love to witness the different kinds of birds in their habitat. 

“Nakita lang nako sa Facebook since naa silay mga page —  if naay chance ug dako kaayo na nga pribilehiyo. Nindot makita og masaksihan ang nagkalain-laing klase na mga birds, characteristics nila, ug ilang habitat (I only saw them on Facebook since they have a page — if given the chance, it would be a huge privilege. It is nice to see the different types of birds and their characteristics and their habitat),” Onso said. 

In contrast, Isaiah John C. Guanzon, a Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Chairman in Barangay Tugbok Proper, said that he is a nature lover and that he already tried birdwatching and this is his way to unwind. Guanzon added that he is asking for the help of the leaders in protecting these birds.

“Pero manawagan ra pod ta sa atong lideres sa syudad nga unta mahatagan pud ni ug pagtagad kay isa pod ni sa asset nga maka-boost sa atoang tourism sa atong dakbayan ug ma-prevent ang further extinction sa mga species of bird (I am calling the attention of our leaders of our city that they would regard their attention to this issue since this is one of the assets that could boost the tourism of our city and to prevent the further extinction of the species or birds),” Guanzon said. 

Actions taken to raise awareness

Simpson noted how the number of birdwatchers is growing rapidly and exponentially. He narrated how 15 years ago he was the sole bird watcher in Davao City and that by conducting birdwatching the number of people who are interested in the activity has increased. 

“All of the people who attended their first birdwatching left with an appreciation that they never had before. They probably didn’t know that there are more than 250 species endemic to the Philippines,” Simpson said.

Simpson said that these individuals might not become hardcore birdwatchers but they would become advocates for the birds. He emphasized that the reason for their cause to introduce people to birdwatching is that if “more people are interested then birds would be better protected, which at the moment they are not.”’ 

Pingoy and his team in the Big Year Davao were able to assist some homeschoolers in birdwatching and were happy to know that the students had expressed their enthusiasm for the activity. He said that he is hopeful that the younger generation will help in the preservation of birds in the city. 

He added that there are free birdwatching activities done in one of the famous inland resorts in the city where there are more or less 75 birds in the wild. The birdwatching activity is done by the resort to promote and raise awareness of the birds that are endemic in Davao. RGP


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