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DENR endorses Cabusao as critical PHL habitat

    Published : Monday, September 05, 2011 00:00 [ manilatimes.net ]
    Written by : JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has declared Cabusao wetlands as critical habitat for Philippine duck.

Secretary Ramon Paje recently signed DENR Administrative Order No. 2011-10 declaring a 27-hectare wetland area of Cabusao in Camarines Sur as a critical habitat for the Philippine duck or Anas luzonica.

The DENR chief said the order is a step towards protecting the Philippine duck, which existence is true to the phrase, ‘only in the Philippines.”

”It will hopefully give this unique bird a chance to live and propagate in a place free from exploitation and destruction caused by high-impact human activities,” Paje said.

The country’s only endemic duck will soon make a fifth-class municipality a must-see destination for environmentalists in tourist-haven Camarines Sur, Paje added.

The Philippine duck is a large dabbling duck that frequents both fresh- and saltwater habitats such as mangroves, open sea and rice fields, feeding mainly on shrimp, fish, insects and vegetation.

It is characterized by a black crown, nape and eye stripe; a blue-grey bill; a cinnamon-colored head and neck; and grayish-brown body and legs. Its wings, when spread, show a glossy-green patch with a black and white border, as well as a white underside.

It has also been described as “the tropical version of the mallard,” a duck commonly found in more temperate regions such as the Americas and Europe.

An Asian Waterbird Census conducted in 2005 pegged the Philippine duck population at 4,428.

Since then, there have been less reported sightings, attributed to “high levels of hunting and trapping, conversion of natural wetlands, mangrove destruction, and recently the extensive use of pesticides on rice fields.”

This population decline has thus given the International Union for Conservation of Nature cause to classify it as “vulnerable” under its Red List of Threatened Species.

Paje said the DAO is in accordance with Republic Act 9147, also known as the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, which promotes ecological balance and enhance biodiversity by conserving and protecting wildlife species and their habitats.

The same law defines a critical habitat as land located outside a protected area that is characterized by the presence of threatened species, considering its endemicity and richness in the area as well as the presence of threats to its survival.

Under the DAO, the DENR Regional Office 5 in Legazpi City, Albay, is tasked to delineate the boundaries of the designated critical habitat. It will also manage the area alongside the local government unit of Cabusao, or co-manage it with the LGU and/or other organizations.

DENR Bicol and its partners will also ensure the preservation of existing ecosystems and safeguard the area’s ecological integrity to support the existence of the Philippine duck.
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