The Department of Tourism (DOT) now joins Prince Albert II of Monaco and Sir David Attenborough in the Birdlife Species Champions honour roll, as it seals its commitment to the conservation of one of the rarest birds in the world, the Cebu Flowerpecker (Dicaeum quadricolor), only found in the Philippines.
Secretary Ace Durano recently signed an agreement with Birdlife International’s Head of Conservation Richard Grimmet, to firm up their support to protect this endangered bird species, endemic to the island of Cebu.
“Preventing Extinctions is a global programme of Birdlife, pushing for awareness and involvement in conservation of rare birds. Here have introduced the concept of Species Champions, concerned parties and individuals, who will provide funding for programs and establishing policies for the protection of bird species,” said Grimmet.
Among the lost bird species only recently rediscovered, the Cebu Flowerpecker was feared extinct for much of the 20th Century. In 1992, it was rediscovered in forest fragments, but it remains critically endangered. Funding from the DOT will provide initial financial support for efforts to conserve and protect this rare bird.
Durano said, “Being a developing country, the Philippines puts great pressure on the environment. Our growing population means there is always the demand to create livelihood, make sure of present resources, which may have impacts if not managed well. We wish to further educate communities on the importance of caring and protecting our natural resources, which remains the most viable asset of our country.”
“Birdwatching as an ecotourism activity is a significant valuable resource we wish to further tap in bringing tourism traffic to remote areas in the country. This relationship with Birdlife International’s program allows us to further capitalize on this advocacy to strengthen untapped regions and localities,” Durano stressed.
Also present during the signing were British tour operators specializing in birdwatching activities. They will visit Tabunan and Alcoy, where the Cebu Flowerpecker is found.
The Cebu Biodiversity Conservation Foundation (CBCF) is the Species Guardian for the Cebu Flowerpecker, DOT’s counterpart in working towards the implementation and execution of programs for conservation.
Lisa Marie Paguntalan, CBCF Research Director and a passionate environmentalist, shared, “It is heartwarming to know that we are not alone in efforts for the conservation of this bird species, endemic to the country.”
“This is the first time for a government agency to sign up as a Species Champion,” she noted, adding that such undertaking is another motivation for others organizations and agencies around the world, to support the cause.
The elusive bird was chosen as the flagship species for this year’s recent British Birdwatching Fair. Organizer Martin Davies said, “We have chosen the Cebu Flowerpecker as the emblem of this year’s birding fair because it provides hope and inspiration not to give up on lost species. We are delighted that the Philippines Ministry of Tourism has now become the BirdLife Species Champion for this forest jewel.”