Ursula Island Game Refuge and Bird Sanctuary
" A home for migratory birds"
Island Game Refuge and Bird Sanctuary were declared through Administrative
Order No. 14 on April 30, 1960. The islet of Ursula is approximately
20 kms. Off Brooke's Point in southern Palawan, about one hour by
boat from Rio Tuba, Bataraza. The vegetation is made up of old growth
lowland forest with moderate undergrowth, consisting mostly of tree
saplings and seedlings. Fishermen frequent the island and there
are numerous trails to wells dug in the interior and some small
nipa huts. Ursula has been promoted in the past as an ecotourism
destination, but it is apparently not visited by many tourists at
present. Ursula Island is notable for the large concentrations of
imperial pigeons that roast there, including numbers of the threatened
grey Imperial-pigeons. However,
it has been reported that the numbers of pigeons roosting there
have declined substantially in recent years. Mantanani Scops-owl,
a restricted-range small-island specialist, has also been recorded
on the island. The shoreline is a migratory and wintering ground
for shorebirds and the surrounding waters are valuable feeding grounds
for seabirds, particularly terns. It is clear that there has been
a significant decline in the numbers of roosting pigeons using Ursula.
From an estimated 150,000 to a few thousand over the last 60 years.
Natural predators such as the line Slender Arboreal Snake Dendrelaphis
caudolinatus may have had significant impact on populations of nesting
birds. This is the only snake recorded at Ursula and it is possible
that it is only a recent colonizer of the island, perhaps brought
there by man. There are also reports of the introduction of rats,
and these are very likely to cause further problems.
The Protected Area Management
Board (PAMB) which takes charge of the whole management of the island
has ordered a temporary closure of the sanctuary from visitors so
as to give time for the birds to recuperate and for the PAMB to
adopt necessary measures in order to fully protect the whole island
while various exposure activities is on going. But the PAMB is still
a big problem today due to the presence of fishermen in the island.
These fishermen allegedly are doing illegal fishing activities within
the vicinity of the sanctuary, thereby damaging the marine ecosystem
and disturbs the birds.
The PAMB members which is co-chaired by the Palawan Council for sustainable
Development (PCSD) and the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR) enjoins their efforts to halt this activity. The
PCSD is optimistic that with the new undertaking of the PAMB like
the strengthening of its monitoring activities, this problem will
April 2007 Updated Photos below taken by the Staff along with the
Local Government Unit of Bataraza .