Photo book vaunts rich biodiversity of W. Visayas

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BACOLOD City – The Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc. (PBCFI) unveiled the book, “Photographic Guide to the Birds of Negros, Panay and Cebu”, to aid in the bio-monitoring and census of waterbirds in the country.

PBCFI executive director Lisa Paguntalan, who led the launching at the Sugarland Hotel, on Nov. 14, said the book is primarily intended for protected area managers and local community bird guides.

“We want to showcase our birdwatching sites to promote tourism and nature conservation…It is a good tool in monitoring and can also be used as reference by students,” she said.

The book, which is sold at P800, introduces the birds of West Visayas Faunal Region, which covers the islands of Negros, Panay and Cebu as well as Masbate, Guimaras, and the satellite islands. It includes photos of 344 species of forest and water birds, showing the most number of contributed photos of birds in their natural habitats in the Philippines.

The pictures were taken by various contributing photographers, including Paguntalan herself. Other pictures were mainly provided by Philip Godfrey Jakosalem, Valentino Kintanar, S. Kieron Tan, Ramon Quisumbing, Romulo Quemado, and Tateo Osawa.

“We sourced out the photos from photographers. We did not buy them, we can only choose what they can offer. Surprisingly, they shared the best photos they had. It is a very good compilation,” Paguntalan said.

She shared that while they were compiling the photos in the period of one year and two months, new bird records also kept coming in. “Another bird was discovered. Another species was recorded. We need to be updated,” she said.

Indeed, the book’s another unique feature is “having pages comparing similar species and good selection of photos of immature and juvenile birds as well as new island and country records.”

Paguntalan said that for Negros Island, the birds featured in the book are mostly found in Gawahon Eco-Park in Victorias City, Mambukal Resort in Murcia town, and Tibsoc coastal area in San Enrique town, all in Negros Occidental, and in Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park in Sibulan town in Negros Oriental.

“It has a very good compilation of migratory birds especially the shore birds. Next to Olango (Island in Cebu), Negros Occidental is one of the richest (sanctuary for birds). In fact, we have several species found only here, and not found in the rest of the Philippines,” she added.

The book is the result of the collaborative effort of the PBCFI with photographers from the Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines and Philippine Bird Photography Forum along with the Provincial Governments of Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental, Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Its publication is supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the PhilAm Fund, Zoological Society of London-Philippines and Ford Foundation IFP Alumni Grant.

Two other books, the Negros Island Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NIBSAP), and the Evidence-based Biodiversity Monitoring, were also launched during the event.

The second book, written by Paguntalan and Jakosalem, is a guide for conservation managers and citizen scientists in biodiversity monitoring. (PNA)

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