Fledging a community wetland conservation project

We have started working with a high school teacher to gather valuable information on the Philippine Duck. Philippine wetlands are under increasing pressure from agriculture expansion and very little is known about the threatened duck. Community projects, such as the work done by Harold and his students, are vital for conservation efforts. If you are interested in setting up a community project and would like support from the project team, please email b.roberts@mmu.ac.uk.

Nic Cabigas.2

Nic Cabigas

Carmela introduces Harold and explains why the work he does with his students is so valuable:

Harold pledged to fledge, and fledge he did. Harold trained five high school students to conduct regular monitoring of waterbirds near their school. Harold teaches Biology at a public high school along the coastline of Capiz. His school is surrounded by a long stretch of beach, mangrove stands and extensive aquaculture ponds, bordered by thick grass on the banks—perfect breeding ground for numerous waterbirds, including several endemic and even threatened species. Likewise, thousands of waterbirds stopover at this wetland site during the migration season, roughly from September to March. The work initiated by Harold and his students is especially important as no bird survey was conducted in the area before—the nearest site for the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) is at Barangay Lawa-an, New Washington, Aklan.

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Harold explains why he got so interested in wetland surveys:

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In 2014, I had the opportunity to attend a class of the world renowned conservation biologist and ornithologist Professor Eberhard Curio at UP Diliman. I was introduced to birdwatching. This sparked my interest to study the wetland birds in my local area. I started visiting wetlands to observe birds and the children got curious and wanted to join in. We now survey the wetlands every Saturday. Many local people find it strange that we spend so much time staring into binoculars for long periods of time! We all enjoy exploring the tangled vegetation of the mangrove swamps, beach forest and the bahura, a tidal inlet in the less explored parts of rural Panay.

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As my students were so keen, I decided to enter a research competition. The wetland research project was so exciting; we explored every nook and cranny, beach and sandbar all over the coastal areas of Pan-ay in rural Capiz. My students were so passionate. We ended up winning the local contest and were put forward to the regional competition and we were chosen to be one of the finalists. This was fantastic. When we got back to school everyone wanted to join our little “bird club”!

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The part that I find most rewarding is that my students are now able to appreciate the birds and what they do for the local ecosystem. They now have a greater understanding and appreciation of wetland conservation. Now, more than ever, we are inspired to help save our feathered friends. We are helping The Philippine Duck Project by doing nest surveys and duck counts.

If you would like to donate any binoculars to Harold or would like to get more involved in The Philippine Duck Project, please send an email.

 

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