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30-page guidebook aims to boost efforts to protect bird sanctuary

By: - Deputy Day Desk Chief / @TJBurgonioINQ
/ 10:00 AM August 25, 2014

MANILA, Philippines–For nonbird watchers, it’s now much easier to identify migratory birds flying in and out of a protected area by the Manila Bay.

A guidebook on 41 of the 80 species of mostly migratory birds found inside the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area is now available, thanks to Sen. Cynthia Villar and the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines.

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It comes complete with colored photographs and descriptions of the birds, including the endangered species of Black-Winged Stilt, which has an estimated population of 100,000 around the world; the Philippine Duck; and Chinese Egret.

But Villar and the bird-watching club said the main idea of the guidebook was to protect the birds and their sanctuary, a 175-hectare internationally recognized wetland threatened by development.

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“With this field guide, we hope to educate and raise awareness of the general public to the diversity of the species and the importance of the last mangrove island in the southern Manila Bay,” the club’s founding president Mike Lu said in the introduction.

Villar, who’s been planting mangroves here for years, said they hoped to step up calls to further protect the sanctuary as the guidebook would be distributed initially to residents and students of Las Piñas and Parañaque.

She raved about the 30-page booklet that carried pictures of three endangered species, including the Black-Winged Stilt, 1,000 of which could be found inside the protected area, among others.

“That is one percent of the total population so that is very substantial,” she said in an earlier interview, referring to the species.

It was the bird watching club that meticulously gathered the data about the birds and took pictures with each visit to the site since 2004 with the help of environment officers. Upon their request, Villar funded the printing of the booklet.

Over the years, the islet ringed by mangroves has become the pit stop for birds escaping from the bitter winter in Siberia, Russia, Japan and China toward Australia. Some move on, but others stay on until the end of winter.

Given its rich biodiversity, it was declared a protected area by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and included in the Ramsar list of Wetlands of International Importance.

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The habitat—the only one of its kind in the metropolis—is threatened by reclamation and development.

Villar and the bird watchers plan to launch next a guidebook on the different plant and tree species found in the area to ensure that the sanctuary would be preserved and protected.

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TAGS: bird sanctuary, Birds, Books, Cynthia Villar, environment, Environmental Issues, guidebook, Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, Migratory birds, Wild Bird Club of the Philippines
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