A Forum on and a Celebration of Wildlife Conservation at Tacurong
by Trinket Constantino
photos by Trinket, Tintin Telesforo, and Felix Servita
I was excited to be finally visiting the Baras Bird Sanctuary at Tacurong in Sultan Kudarat!
The City of Tacurong celebrated the 3rd Tacurong Bird Festival (A Celebration of Wildlife Conservation) last May 12 and 13, 2017. The event kicked off with a Conservation Forum held on the first morning of the bird festival at the Notre Dame of Tacurong College.
Adri and I flew in via General Santos that same morning. We arrived at Tacurong, an hour and half’s drive away, just in time for the opening of the event!
After a welcome address from the Vice Mayor of the City and enthusiastic messages from the City Mayor, Honorable Lina Montilla and from the DOT RD Nelly Dillera and a representative of the DENR, the main program of the forum started.
The WBCP was well represented by the various speakers in the forum who were affiliated with their home institutions and groups also. Carmela Espanola (Assistant Professor of the Institute of Biology, UP Diliman) talked of the ecological role of birds. She gave several examples of the ecosystems services of birds: provisioning, regulating, supporting and cultural. She also showed prototypes of how these services were exemplified in various parks and protected areas abroad.
Nofnof Suropia, an avid photographer and active birder of the SOXbirders followed. He gave a brief talk on wildlife photography, detailing the different types of equipment used and showing several of his beautiful photographs recording the local bird life. More importantly, he reminded everyone of the ethics of bird watching and photography, emphasizing that no photograph is worth harming and disturbing wildlife.
Adrian Constantino (Birding Adventure Philippines), then shared his experiences of the joys of birdwatching. He talked about the birds of the Philippines, emphasizing the birds of the SOCCSKSARGEN region, and how they are both a treasured national heritage and also how they can be the subject of an addictive hobby. Having carried out a DOT workshop in Tacurong previously, he gamely showed photos of the local guides at work.
Last, but definitely not least, Felix Servita (Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit PNP Regional Office XII) gave an enlightening talk on the Wildlife Act and its enforcement. His talk detailing what is legal and illegal when it comes to the hunting and collection of wildlife gained a lot of interest. He also gave several examples and updates of specific cases previously filed around the country regarding hunting. He encouraged everyone to be alert and actively fight against the persecution of wildlife. Felix also livened up the forum by asking bird- and law- related questions for which he gave prizes to audience members with the correct answers.
Although the talks ran past schedule, there was still an enthusiastic response from the audience during the Open Forum which followed. Moderated by Tin Telesforo (also of the WBCP!) and local counterpart Allan Freno, various questions with regards to tourism plans, suggestions with regards to the bird sanctuary, and clarifications of the wildlife act were discussed.
The forum ended already into the lunch hour, but everyone was happy with the morning’s lectures and dialogue. It was a great way to open the bird festival: informative and engaging for both speakers and audience.
In the afternoon, the festival activities moved to the Baras Bird Sanctuary. Here various booths were set up for a variety of arts and crafts activities and for a local trade fare. Of course, several visitors were there to also enjoy the cageless wonders of the sanctuary and get great views of the thousands of egrets and night-herons nesting at the sanctuary.
The Tacurong Bird Festival and the Baras Bird Sanctuary is another wonderful example of how private citizens, the local government, and the whole community can work together for the preservation of wildlife while sustaining the local community. Congratulations for a successful event and I hope to be back again next year!
Editor’s Note: The Tacurong Bird Festival was featured in the local news. Click HERE to watch the video.