PH eyes better protection of two threatened birds

Migratory birds in Candaba, Pampanga Photo taken from Candaba Migratory birdswebsite

There’s urgency for such protection as population of the Christmas Island frigatebird (scientific name ‘Fregata andrewsi’) and Yellow bunting (scientific name ‘Emberiza sulphurata’) is declining due to habitat loss and other factors, said chief science research specialist Dr. Simplicia Pasicolan from the Philippine environment department’s Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau.

Both birds are among migratory species the Philippines proposed for inclusion in appendices of Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) to boost protection for these species, she noted.

“Our resolution seeks collaboration with the Australian government and other range countries where substantial numbers of the Christmas Island frigatebird occurs,” Pasicolan said Wednesday in Metro Manila at CMS’ 12th Conference of Parties (COP 12).

She noted such range countries include Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. Pasicolan also said the Philippines aims collaborating with Japan on a concerted action plan for protecting Yellow bunting.

Such plan includes standardized monitoring within Yellow bunting’s breeding range, she noted. Christmas Island frigatebird and Yellow bunting are already considered critically endangered and vulnerable under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, respectively.

IUCN’s Red List is recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating conservation status of plant and animal species.

According to the Philippines’ Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), migratory species are animals that cyclically and predictably cross one or more national jurisdictional boundaries in response to seasons, availability of food or need to reproduce.

“Animal migration can be found in all major animal groups including birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians, insects and crustaceans,” BMB said.

Migratory birds move annually along a flyway or route from breeding grounds to non-breeding areas including intermediate resting and feeding places and the area within which these birds migrate, noted experts.

EAAF extends from within the Arctic Circle through East and Southeast Asia to Australia and New Zealand – stretching across 22 countries, making this one of the world’s nine major migratory flyways.

According to experts, migratory water birds are facing a crisis in EAAF mainly due to loss of habitat, particularly coastal wetlands and intertidal areas.

UNEP Exec. Dir. Dr. Erik Solheim highlighted need to protect species worldwide, noting loss of one will affect the environment significantly. “That’ll have huge impact on the entire ecosystem,” he said Wednesday at CMS COP 12.

He noted damaged ecosystems will negatively affect economies. “We can protect our planet and bring development to people,” he clarified.

Experts cited food, pollination, and pest control as among migratory species’ benefits. Such species also have potential as medicinal sources and eco-tourism draws.

CMS is an inter-governmental treaty under UNEP and provides the global platform for conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and habitats of these species.

Parties to CMS agree to protect and conserve migratory species particularly those at high risk of extinction. ‘Their future is our future – sustainable development for wildlife and people’ is CMS COP 12’s theme and highlights the link between migratory species’ conservation and sustainable development. (PNA)