Thursday, February 28. 2013
DOT Region IX Director M June Bugante and WBCP Execom
officers paid a courtesy call to Zamboanga City
Mayor Celso Lobregat
The Department of Tourism (DOT) – Region IX welcomed President Michael Lu, Vice-President Gina Mapua, Secretary Maia Tanedo and Jops Josef of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP) to Zamboanga City last February 15, 2013. The visitors, who stayed in the city for three (3) days, conducted an ocular inspection to assess whether Zamboanga City is suitable to be the venue for the 9th Philippine Bird Festival.
The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines was established in July 2003 to promote bird watching as a hobby and the responsible enjoyment of nature. It works with the Department of Tourism to promote the country as a bird watching destination. WBCP was also a recipient of a World Bank Environmental Champion award in 2005.
The Philippines is one of the four countries that hosts annual birdfestivals. The other countries are Taiwan, Malaysia and Thailand. The usual activities undertaken during the bird festivals include lectures, birdcall contests, film showings and a bird watching trip for the delegates. To date, the Philippine Bird Festival has taken place in Manila (2005, 2006), Cebu (2007), Palawan (2008), Bataan (2009), Davao (2010) Dumaguete (2011) and Manila (2012). Bird Clubs from the Asian region that have participated regularly include countries like Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, China, Malaysia and Singapore.
Furthermore, the club officers’ three-day ocular inspection began at the Pasonanca Natural Park which was featured in Volume 2 of the book entitled “Birdwatching in the Philippines.”
The natural park showcases Mindanao-endemic species such as the Zamboanga Bulbul (Ixos rufigularis), White-eared Tailorbird and the Mindanao race of the Wattled Broadbill. Classified as an important BirdArea (IBA), it has three possible bird watching stations: Intake, Cabonegro and Baluno Research Station. It covers an area of 17,414 hectares which serves as a breeding ground for endemic bird species and various forest animals. The natural park has 43 species including the Steere’s Pitta (pitta steerii), Rusty Crowned Babbler (stachyris capitalis) and Rufous-tailed Jungle-flycatcher (rhinomyias ruficauda), to name some.
The other bird watching sites that the club officers visited were Bog Lake, Zamboanga Ecozone, NJB Farm, Zamboanga City State College of Marine Science and Technology, Plaza del Pilar,Paseo del Mar, Baluno and Sta. Cruz Island. At the end of their trip, they reported that 78 species were sighted in the city.
Zamboanga City will most likely be the venue of the upcoming 9th Philippine Bird Festival. Guests from all over the world and the Philippines will be gathered in the city for three days of bird watching adventures and discussions. The festival will give the city an opportunity to promote its natural assets, wild bird conservation efforts, eco-adventure activities and cultural heritage. It will also encourage collaboration among conservation organizations and the local government, and foster birding as an ecotourism activity.
Through this endeavor, DOT and the Wild Bird Club of the Philippineshopes to inspire more Filipinos to become bird watchers and enthusiasts.