Ilocos Norte adopts measures to conserve rare imperial pigeons

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DUCULA carola or imperial pigeons, known in Tagalog as “balud” were reportedly spotted in the coastal villages of Davila and Dilavo in northern Pasuquin town in Ilocos Norte.

This has prompted the provincial government to formulate conservation measures to protect and save one of the world’s endangered bird species amid sightings of their numbers in said coastal villages.

Gov. Imee Marcos called on residents particularly those who live and sojourn along these coastal villages, where imperial pigeons were sighted recently, to avoid catching or hunting them.
The imperial pigeon is a species of bird endemic in the Philippines particularly in subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.

An Ilocos Norte-based conservation advocate has classified the bird species as “vulnerable” in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species “owing to their dwindling population due to habitat loss.”

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Dr. Petrus Calope said their declining number as well as their traditional congregation sites in the country was also because of indiscriminate bird hunting and trapping, especially during the 1950s.

“It is difficult to find them easily anywhere in the Philippines now. And this is why a number of bird watchers became excited and rushed to the province when a report broke out that this type of bird regularly come in flocks along the [Pasuquin] shorelines,” Calope said.

Calope said the coastal villages in Pasuquin town where these birds flock have been attracting many tourists and bird enthusiasts.

”But this remains a puzzle to [tourists and bird enthusiasts]since there are other potential congregation sites for these birds in the country,” he said.

Calope said other coastal places such as in Laoag City or in neighboring Bacarra could also offer saltwater for these birds and yet they prefer to flock in Pasuquin’s shorelines adding that there must be something that attracts them there.

The provincial chief executive said the provincial government would enforce its conservations measures for the rare bird species.

”Their existence would also help boost the tourism industry of the province, which is also known for its centuries-old structures and scenic beaches,” Marcos said.

She said ornithology experts of the local government will conduct further research on their habitat and behavior to prevent them from becoming extinct; and this is besides securing their congregation sites.

Calope said collaboration with the provincial government can boost the conduct of a research on these very rare birds.

He said we are planning to find out where the birds are coming from “so that we can learn more about its life cycle and can plan better for their protection.”

LEANDER C. DOMINGO

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