By Connie Calipay
LEGAZPI CITY – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Bicol (DENR-5) reported on Monday that over 13,000 waterbirds were sighted in the recently conducted Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) in the Bicol Region.
DENR-5, in a social media post, said the AWC is an annual event coinciding with other international censuses of waterbirds in Africa, Europe, and Neotropics under the umbrella of the International Waterbird Census (IWC).
“The conduct of AWC aims to provide a baseline data on the estimates, and monitor the changes of waterbird population, improve knowledge of waterbird species and wetland sites, identify and monitor sites that are important for waterbirds in general and those sites that may qualify as ‘Wetlands of International Importance’ under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and increase the awareness on the importance of waterbirds and their habitat,” the post read.
Some of the waterbirds sighted during the activity were the cinnamon bittern, yellow bittern, great cormorant, white-browed crake, white-billed crow, and different species of kingfisher, dove, heron, plover, sandpiper, swallow, and tern, among others.
Vulnerable species such as the Philippine duck (Anas luzonica), common pochard (Aythya ferina), and Chinese egret (Egretta eulophotes) as well as near-threatened species like the red-necked stint (Calidris ruficollis), grey-tailed tatler (Tringa brevipes), and Eurasian curlew (Numenius arquata) were also recorded.
The identified sites for the activity were the Cabusao Critical Habitat in Cabusao, Camarines Sur; Naro, and Chico Island Wildlife Sanctuaries in Cawayan, Masbate; and Juban Wetlands Critical Habitat and Prieto Diaz Wetlands in Sorsogon; the Mercedes Critical Habitat in Mercedes, Camarines Norte; the Panganiban Wetlands in Panganiban, Catanduanes; the Bongsanglay Natural Park in Batuan, Masbate; Lake Bato in Libon, Albay; and the Malison Lake in Ligao City.
DENR-Bicol Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla Jr. enjoined the public to help in the protection and conservation activities for wildlife species and their habitat biodiversity, which is mandated under Republic Act 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act. (PNA-OJT)