Conservation & ReHabilitation

Conservation & Rehabilitation

The forests of Panay play an important role as watersheds and as protection against erosion and landslides. They are also home of rare, endemic and ecologically important species. Work of PhilinCon includes conservation of the last significant stands of primary, low elevation rainforest in the entire biogeographic region of the West Visayas, located on the Northwest Panay Peninsula (NWPP). This forest is a seed bank for reforestation of areas already destroyed. The NWPP is an area with a range of highly endangered, endemic species of frogs, reptiles, birds and mammals that makes it one of the highest conservation priorities in the world in terms of the number of endangered plants and animals per unit area, and the degree of threat these species confront.

Work of PhilinCon related to conservation and rehabilitation of biodiversity

Direct and indirect support of biodiversity conservation in the Philippines is focusing most immediately on NW Panay and to a lesser extent on the Central Panay Mountains.
Identification and securing of additional support and linkages for conservation efforts on Panay.
Faunistic and floristic surveys. PhilinCon has extended the known range of over 75 species of animals by locating them on Panay, and discovered several new to science as a result of targeted surveys.
Rehabilitation and release of wildlife and also forest protection, reforestation and watershed management.
Identifying the peninsular forests as a genetic resource in terms of a seed bank for the propagation of indigenous trees and other native plants needed for the proper rehabilitation of degraded watersheds on Panay.
Research on components of biodiversity, and on the interrelationships of these components in terrestrial ecosystems, including studies of the ecological importance of species for the forest (for instance by seed dispersal). PhilinCon has published more than 90 scientific papers in (mostly) peer reviewed journals based on its activities in the Philippines.
Community-based work, adult and school conservation education projects, natural resource management and development, and the providing of small-scale livelihood projects which make local people independent of over-exploitation of natural resources. Livelihood projects include a contractual obligation by participants to commit to a conservation activity.
Rendering of services that complement and assist local institutions in interventions against the illegal, non-sustainable exploitation of wildlife and other natural resources such as hunting and logging. We facilitate and assist the training of forest rangers; the first FRs took their oath in 2002.
Cooperation with Ms. Gigi Bautista running the Pandan Beach Resort, Barangay Dionela, Pandan, Antique, engaged with eco-tourism in NW Panay. Offering nature tours through the NW Panay Peninsula and bird watching in Sebaste Municipality, the enterprise benefits the local stakeholders by employing them as guides, porters and other field personnel. A similar cooperation though with another emphasis has been forged with Ms. Macrina P. Lovina, President of the CAPE Foundation, with its focus on coastal conservation, dolphins rescue, teachers’ training in environmental education, agroforesty and others.
Lobbying for the declaration of the forested areas of the Central Panay Mountains as protected under the National Integrated Protected Areas System. Building on the proclamation of the NW Panay peninsula as a Natural Park Area in 2001, networking with the DENR, LGUs, and provincial governments to promote the strategic declaration of the Central Panay Mountains as a Protected Area, too.
Conservation of the highly endangered Writhed-billed Hornbill (Rhabdotorrhinus waldeni), a species important as a seed-disperser. Support for this comes from both the North of England Zoological Society (Chester Zoo), the German Bird Protection Committee, the Mohamed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, GIZ, and others. Success: Forest and nesthole monitoring allowed to reduce the number of poached hornbill nests (brood and sometimes also females killed) from 50% earlier to 5% since 2001.
Organizing of the many levels of society and government institutions in fora that respond to the threats to nature and the natural resource base in the areas of their jurisdiction. This includes both LGUs and the Provincial Government, and is best manifested in PhilinCon’s facilitation of the NW Panay Biodiversity Management Council consisting of LGU Executive and other municipal representation, the DENR, and PhilinCon. This body is supplementing the later installed Protected Area Management Board in representing natural resource issues at the local and national level.

PhilinCon operates under the aegis of a Memorandum of Agreement with the DENR, and a Gratuitous Permit (GP), enabling us to collect specimens for research and study the relationships of the components of biodiversity. We maintain a research station at 460 m elevation in primary, old growth forest on the peninsula, presently staffed by 3 Filipinos (station officer and caretakers of hornbills), and research students studying various ecological, behavioral, and taxononomic aspects of Panay’s biodiversity.

Rehabilitation and release of wildlife

Our MOA authorizes the project to receive and maintain confiscated, donated, and rescued wildlife for rehabilitation, and later release them back into their former habitats. We presently maintain several hornbills and raptors at two locations, Bulanao, Libertad, and Santo Rosario, Pandan.

A local DVM, Dr. Enrique Sanchez, had been dispatched to Cologne, Germany, for additional training in avian medicine. Likewise, Filipino staff were trained to tend and care for rehabilitated wildlife in our three facilities, namely in Mag-aba Wildlife Clinic, Pandan, Bulanao Rescue Facility in Brgy. Bulanao, Libertad, both in Antique, and the Sibaliw Rehabilitation Facility in Brgy. Tag-osip, Buruanga, Aklan. After proper health checks, the birds are trained and conditioned for release. In the process, the animals are familiarized with their natural diet to enable them to survive when released back to the wild.

The BIOPAT Mabitang Project

By M. Gaulke, G. Canoy & E. Curio

To learn more about the recently described Mabitang (Varanus mabitang), an endemic and highly endangered large monitor lizard from the forests of Panay, a field study was supported by BIOPAT (Biologische Patenschaften e.V., Eschborn) for a number of years. For at least two years, three different study areas have been regularly searched for this lizard and its tracks. This search was extended to still other areas of the CPMR in the GIZ/DENR driven program toward the proclamation of PAs, as defined by the occurrence of critically endangered species. Then data recorded will lead to a more profound knowledge of its population status and its biology, enabling PhilinCon to implement concrete conservation measures. At the same time, local awareness towards the uniqueness of this remarkable lizard is increased with the help of posters and educational campaigns.

Literature concerning the Mabitang. See also general publication list M. Gaulke.