Seven Philippine Cockatoos or Katala as locally called were released back in the wild in Dumaran Island in northern Palawan on January 27.
Five of these birds were rescued from starvation during the El Nino 2016 breeding season on the island itself and two were from Puerto Princesa City, according to the Katala Foundation Inc. (KFI).
“What we do in Dumaran is supplementation of Philippine Cockatoos. We noticed that recruitment of the species is slow in Dumaran probably due to inbreeding or low reproductive abilities of remnant population,” said KFI Science Director Peter Widmann, adding that the island is a very special and unique place despite the forests being so fragmented.
The release was witnessed by the local government unit (LGU) officials, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) representatives, Dumaran Municipal Police, media, and other members of the interim management board of the newly established Critical Habitat on Dumaran Island.
The newly created Critical Habitat that encompasses the last remaining forest patches in Dumaran Island is home to both critically endangered Philippine Cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia) and the Palawan Forest Turtle (Siebenrockiella leytensis).
Not only that, it is also home to equally threatened Palawan Pangolin and the Palawan Hornbill among others.
The global population of the Katala is between 640-1,120 and 70-90% of this could be found in Palawan.
According to Indira Lacerna-Widmann, Program Director of the Philippine Cockatoo Conservation Program, the hatchlings were taken cared of at the Katala Institute in Narra, Palawan where they gained stable health after rescue.
Meanwhile, a pre-release aviary was built on site for the birds’ flight practice and acclimatization before its eventual release.
At the pre-release aviary for six months, birds were practicing flight muscles, were introduced to local natural foods and had an anti-predator training.
Each bird was tested negative of PBFD virus and sex were determined before its release.
Wildlife wardens took turns to monitor the birds inside and outside the aviary with emphasis of not imprinting on humans.
RESTORING LOWLAND FORESTS
“The LGU has been grateful and supportive of its joint efforts with the Katala Foundation Inc. in bringing back the Katala to Dumaran but more importantly in protecting and restoring the lost lowland forests therein,” says Arnel Caabay, Administrative Officer of Dumaran.
Caabay added that the recent adoption of the Municipal Council of the PCSD Resolution No. 14-513 declaring 1,628 hectares as Critical Habitat is their commitment to restore forest cover in Dumaran not only for the wildlife in need but also to ensure its water supply in the island which is now dwindling.