birdwatchers bid to help save rare Cebu bird from extinction
Birdwatchers from all corners of the
Republic and neighbouring countries will flock into
Cebu on 21 September with a mission to spread the gospel
of wildlife habitat conservation and thereby reinforce
international efforts to save a rare island species
The Cebu Flowerpecker,
from a painting by William Oliver.
Found only in Cebu, this rare bird is in extreme
of being lost forever. © William Oliver.
bird under "death sentence" is the Cebu Flowerpecker,
a tiny, blue-black and white bird with a distinctive
red patch on its back. It is unique to the forests
of Cebu. It exists nowhere else on the planet.
If the last remaining small patches of its forest
habitat are not preserved, it will vanish forever.
In fact, it was already thought
to have disappeared entirely until it was chanced
upon by a visiting amateur birdwatcher in 1992,
in a tiny remnant of forest at Tabunan, in the
Central Cebu National Park. It has also been seen
since at Nug-As and at nearby Mt Lantoy, but is
still so rare that no photographs are available.
Several other kinds of birds unique to Cebu are
thought to have already become extinct.
The bird's habitats are still
being reduced by logging and encroachment. With
every old tree that is felled, the shadow of death
draws in closer on the Cebu Flowerpecker.
"We should not allow this to happen,"
declared Michael Lu, President of the Wild Bird Club
of the Philippines (WBCP). The Club is holding its Third
Philippine Bird Festival in Cebu on 21 September at
the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino, and the following
day at the Olango Island Nature Sanctuary.
International, based in the United Kingdom, assesses
the threat status of the world's birds for the
United Nations. It has just warned that bird species
around the world are disappearing at an unprecedented
rate: 189 species are on the 'critically endangered'
list on the brink of extinction: 9 of them are
here in the Philippines. The Cebu Flowerpecker
is one of them. Birdlife International has recently
launched a global program aimed at saving all
189 species from extinction."
"The WBCP will do its utmost
to increase awareness in Cebu about the plight
of the Cebu Flowerpecker," Lu states. "And we're
also determined to do the same for other species
unique to Cebu, including the Black Shama, which
is endangered, but not yet on the 'critical' list."
The Black Shama, another
one of Cebu's endemic species,
faces a very high risk of extinction in the wild.
© 2007 Raul Puentespina.
The threatened Cebu Flowerpecker appropriately
appears as the Festival logo. The two-day event bannered
"Just Watch, Don't Catch!" aims to raise conservation
awareness through birdwatching and the responsible appreciation
Events on 21 September at the Waterfront
Cebu City Hotel will include lectures, photo exhibits,
film shows, art activities and face-painting for kids.
These will be followed by the 2nd Philippine Duck Forum,
at which conservationists and academics will spotlight
efforts to save this endangered endemic species.
At Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary
on 22 September, delegates will witness the arrival
of the first migrant shore birds from Northern Asia,
some of which are themselves globally endangered, and
hold joint activities with the island community.
Among the organizations participating
in the festival are the Philippine Eagle Foundation,
Cebu Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, WWF-Philippines,
Center for Environmental Awareness and Education, Isla
Biodiversity Conservation and Kaakbay CDI. The Wild
Bird Society of Taipei, the Asian Raptor Research &
Conservation Network and the Bird Conservation Society
of Thailand are also attending.
The Festival is sponsored by Team-Energy
Foundation, the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, the Cebu City
Mayor's Office, Sulpicio Lines, Pioneer Insurance and
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Philippines.
Note to Editors: The other Philippine
bird species on the global critically endangered list
are the Philippine Eagle, Mindoro Bleeding Heart,
Negros Bleeding Heart, Sulu Bleeding Heart, Negros
Fruit Dove, Philippine Cockatoo, Sulu Hornbill and
the Isabela Oriole. Unless their habitats are saved
and protected, they are likely to vanish forever within
a few years.
For sponsorship inquiries, please contact Festival
Chair Alice Villa-Real (Manila) at email@example.com
or 0917-5397861 and Nilo Arribas, Jr (Cebu) at firstname.lastname@example.org
For school participation inquiries, please get in
touch with Ms Evelyn Nacario of the Ramon Aboitiz
Foundation at ENacario@rafi.org.ph.