Negros bird babblers’ conservation pushed

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The government has pressed for the conservation of endangered “Zosteropidae” bird babblers at the Mount Kanlaon Natural Park on Negros Island for biodiversity preservation in support of the rural economy’s sustainable development.

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The babblers are threatened by bird hunting, illegal cutting of trees for timber, firewood and charcoal production, human-induced air pollution,and conversion of forests to agricultural commodities, according to the Sylvatrop Journal of the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB).

In Sylvatrop’s special issue with the Biodiversity Conservation Society of the Philippines, experts revealed that both Negros babblers — the flame-templed babbler (Dasycrotapha speciosa, endemic to Negros and Panay) and the striped babbler (Stachyris nigrorum, endemic to Negros) have been classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

As of 2015, BirdLife International indicated that the population of flame-templed babbler on Mount Kanlaon ranged from 2,500 to 9999. The striped babbler numbered from 600 to 1,700 mature birds. Reduction in population of the bird species, threatened at 50 to 90 percent, is believed to be continuing.

“[We should] intensify regular forest monitoring in Mount Kanlaon and establish and revisit a biodiversity monitoring system for the population of babbler species,” Sylvatrop authors Andrew Reintar, Shaira Grace Pios and Dennis Warguez said.

They pressed for conservation initiatives to start and the production of education materials to raise public awareness on the biodiversity threat.

ERDB Director Henry Adornado said the study increases understanding of the status of Philippine biodiversity.

“These efforts are aligned with ERDB’s mission to provide science-based information for the improvement of our environment. May these scientific information inspire us to work hard for the conservation of our rich flora and fauna,” Adornado added.

Biodiversity protection promotes sustainable development of forests that are significant sources of food, timber and non-timber products and raw materials for manufacturing supplies while generating livelihood for rural people.

“We need biodiversity for its invaluable ecosystem services, providing oxygen, food, clean water, fertile soil, medicines, shelter, protection from storms and floods, a stable climate and recreation,” according to the Earth Institute.

The IUCN has recommended the conduct of more surveys in Panay and around Mount Silay and Mount Mandalagan in north Negros to locate other birds.

It also pushed for the establishment of the Central Panay Mountains National Park and other key sites as the North Negros Forest Reserve.

“This lowland forest species has a very small, severely fragmented and declining range. It is estimated that just 10 percent of remaining forest on the two islands where it occurs lies within the elevation range suitable for this species,” IUCN said.

Reforestation is viewed as a solution to their threatened extinction.

According to the study, “Tree density was found to be significant in the abundance of the striped babbler, a decrease in tree density would mean an increase in the abundance of the specie. This result strongly presses the fact that the species prefers mid-montane and mossy forest.”

Thick undergrowth should be developed for the flame-templed babbler which is an omnivore. These babblers feed and breed in understory bushes, trees, vines and ferns.

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