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Guimaras now a refuge for migratory birds

/ 08:55 PM February 19, 2012

ILOILO CITY—The island-province of Guimaras is developing as a refuge for migratory birds, according to a Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) report.

Results of a DENR waterfowl census conducted from January 26 to 28 showed that the bird population on the island reached 2,792, a 489-percent increase from the 570 recorded last year.

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These included 21 migratory bird species in five identified sites in the province.

“It appears that Guimaras Island has become a refuge for migratory birds,” said Jesse Vego, provincial environment and resources officer on Sunday.

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The survey showed that little egrets and cattle egrets had the most number of species recorded with 581 and 495 respectively, according to a statement of the DENR regional public affairs office.

The species included the common tern, striated heron, grey plover, common sandpiper, barred rail, red shank, and black-winged stilt.

Vego said in the statement that the result in the five sampling sites was “remarkable” because the comparative data from the 2008 to 2011 waterfowl census had an average of 633 individuals annually.

The sampling sites were Barangay (village) San Antonio in Nueva Valencia town; Barangays Alegria and Sabang in Sibunag town; Barangay Suclaran in San Lorenzo town; and Barangay Getulio in Buenavista town.

“The result was attributed to the greater number of egrets and terns present in the identified sites and the favorable weather condition for the water birds when the census was taken,” Vego said.

In the interview, Vego said migratory birds usually seek warmer habitats especially because of the environmental distortions brought by climate change.

“The birds could have been drawn to the numerous seawater and freshwater wetlands in the many islets of Guimaras that could sustain their food requirements,” he said. He cited the rich biodiversity of the Taklong Island National Marine Reserve in Nueva Valencia town.

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The increase of migratory birds in Guimaras is a “good indicator” of the state of the wetlands and habitat of the island, according to Vego.

The 60,457-hectare Guimaras Island with a population of 151,238 is known for its sweet mangoes and pristine beaches, which draw thousands of tourists yearly.

But Vego said the findings were still not conclusive to indicate if Guimaras had become a permanent destination of migratory birds. “We need additional research and continued monitoring is required,” he said.

The survey was conducted as part of the annual Asian Waterbird Census, which monitors waterbird populations.

Julian Amador, DENR regional executive director, said that aside from helping preserve wildlife, the increase of migratory birds could be a tourism potential, which local government units could promote.

“It is another opportunity for the people to work with the environment. Wetlands tourism provides a venue for the community protecting the ecosystem, and in return, these activities could provide them sustainable living,” Amador said in the statement.

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TAGS: environment, Environmental Issues, Guimara, Migratory birds, Philippines – Regions, Tourism
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