By Dino Balabo (The Philippine
Updated January 23, 2011 12:00 AM
MALOLOS CITY, Philippines – Extreme
winter conditions in colder countries have driven migratory
birds to different wetlands in the Philippines, but conservationists
and bird watchers warned that aggressive developments and
human activities would eventually drive these water birds
The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP)
is conducting another census of water birds in the Candaba
swamp in Pampanga today. The swamp is one of the identified
habitats of migratory birds in Central Luzon.
Dubbed as the Asian Water Bird Census, the
annual activity is usually conducted in the first three weeks
WBCP chairman Michael Lu told The STAR in
a telephone interview that they expect to see more birds "because
we have colder winter this year which is partly felt in the
He added, though, that the number may still
be lower compared to previous years.
Records obtained by The STAR showed that
the number of water birds in the Candaba swamp has consistently
dropped in the last three years.
In 2008, a total of 17,000 water birds were
counted in the swamp. The figure dropped to 12,613 in 2009,
then to 11,000 in 2010.
According to Lu, aggressive developments
in identified wetlands is the main factor in the decline in
the number of water birds, citing as example developments
along the Manila Bay area where mudflats and wetlands were
"The more wetlands and mudflats we reclaim,
the smaller habitat we leave for the water birds," he
He also noted that human activities like
hunting contributed to the decrease in the number of migratory
birds seeking sanctuary in the Candaba swamp.
The same sentiment was echoed by Wetlands
International, a global organization that works to sustain
and restore wetlands and their resources for people and biodiversity.
In its 2010 report titled "State of
the World's Water Birds," Wetlands International said,
"The Water Bird Index shows that the status of the water
bird populations remains poor, and globally, as reported in
the recently published Global Biodiversity Outlook, 44 percent
of known populations are decreasing and only 17 percent are
The same report said the water bird population
status is least favorable in Africa, South America, and Asia
where 62 percent of known populations are decreasing or extinct.
Wetlands International added that the most
frequent threats to key wetlands and their water bird populations
are habitat loss and degradation driven by infrastructure
development, water regulation, agricultural intensification
and human disturbance.
They said these same threats are "likely
to be aggravated by climate change, and will most probably
worsen in the coming years.