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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, April 16, 2018
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OPINIONS

Negros biodiversity planning
Last of two parts

Rock & Refuge

Negros Island is not a big landmass compared with Luzon and Mindanao, but it contains numerous endemic species, including single-island endemic species.

With the alteration of the island’s natural ecosystems, however, a good number of these endemic species are threatened from extinction in the wild and listed in the Red List of Threatened Species of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

During the 1 st Negros Island Biodiversity Strategy and Action Planning Workshop held on April 4-5 in Bacolod City, Lisa Paguntalan, executive director of the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, which was one of the organizers of the event, presented that there are three birds, three mammals, and one reptile in Negros identified as critically-endangered, based on the list of the DENR. The status of critically endangered is accorded to species or subspecies facing extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future.

The critically-endangered birds in Negros are the Rufous-headed hornbill, Negros bleeding heart pigeon, and Negros fruit bat, with the latter already considered as a lost species because it has not been recorded since its discovery in 1953 in the Mount Kanla-on Natural Park. This unique fruit dove was known from a single specimen. It is a single-island endemic species, as it could not be found elsewhere. The Rufous-headed hornbill, a species found in Negros and Panay, was thought to be extinct in Negros, but it was rediscovered in the Northern Negros Natural Park a few years ago. The Negros bleeding heart was once known to exist only in Negros, the reason why it was named after the island, until it was recorded in Panay in the early 1990s.

The critically endangered mammals in Negros are the Visayan spotted deer, Visayan warty pig, and Philippine bare-backed fruit bat. Before its discovery in Cebu, the bare-backed fruit dove was restricted only in Negros, particularly in southern Negros Occidental. The remaining population in the wild of the warty pig and spotted deer is surviving in Negros and Panay, although they were known to occur before in Masbate, Cebu, and Guimaras.

The second level of threat assigned to species or subspecies is endangered, which means they are not critically endangered but their survival in the wild is unlikely if the causal factors of threat continue to operate. Paguntalan further claimed during the planning workshop that there are 12 birds, three mammals, two reptiles, and three amphibians in Negros classified as endangered species.

Adding to the list of threatened species in Negros are those listed as vulnerable, which includes 13 birds, one mammal, four reptiles, and one amphibian. Vulnerable status, as provided for in the DENR’s guidelines, is assigned to species or subspecies that are under threat from adverse factors throughout its range and is likely to move to the endangered category in the near future.

The planning workshop, which was co-organized by the Biodiversity Financing Initiative of the DENR, the United Nations Development Programme, and provincial governments of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, was, indeed, necessary to draw up concrete actions to save the remaining habitats and endemic species surviving in the island.*

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