Sunday, July 29, 2012

Lambunao: A Municipality for Wildlife

Travel is one good way to relieve pressure and it has become popular that more and more people choose going around places during their spare time. And a tour to the municipality of Lambunao is very popular because of its many tourism resources.

Aside from being home to more than 30 waterfalls, the municipality is also known for the diversity of its animals, and for the number of species that would be considered rare and endangered. The town is in fact considered a “hot spot” for containing unique and unusual species.

Because the town contains such a high number of sensitive and potentially rare and endangered species, the municipal government along with a private conservationist group, a number of public agencies adopted a reserved area inside the West Visayas State University-College of Agriculture and Forestry, Lambunao campus in barangay Jayubo that addresses the need to protect important populations of rare and endangered species. It is a 2.5 hectare agro-eco park situated 16.3 kilometers from the poblacion.

The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) Red List is a widely recognized evaluation for threatened plant and animal species. It has classified many animals in the Philippines including those found inside the WVSU-CAF Agro-Eco Park as endangered or critically endangered where they face a very high or extremely high risk of extinction.

The Visayan Spotted Deer, also known as the Philippine Spotted Deer is a nocturnal and endangered species of deer. It is one of three endemic deer species in the Philippines, although it was not recognized as a separate species until 1983. The deer is small and short-legged yet it is the largest endemic species of deer among the Visayas. This species is easily distinguished because of its distinctive "A" pattern of beige spots in both sides of the animal. It also has cream underparts and white fur on the chin and lower lip. Its head and neck are brown, but lighter than the body, and the eyes are ringed with paler fur. Males are larger than females and have short, thick, bumpy antlers. The diet of the deer, which consists of a variety of different types of grasses, leaves, and buds within the forest, is the primary indicator of its habitat. Since 1991 the range of the species has severely decreased.

The Visayan Warty Pig got its name from the three pairs of fleshy "warts" found on its visage. The scientific reason of the warts is that it acts as a natural defense against the tusks of rival pigs during a fight. Boars also grow stiff, spikey hair. It lives in groups of four to six. The diet of the pig mainly consists of roots, tubers, and fruits that can be found in the forest. It is not a protected animal and continues to be hunted that resulted primarily for its population decline.  As of its IUCN Red List assessment in 2008 it is classified as critically endangered.

photo by Toby Pagulayan Jr. (PALI)

The Visayan Tarictic Hornbill or Forest-dwelling Hornbill live in groups and frequent the canopy of rainforests. These birds are noisy and emit an incessant. Despite their noise they are difficult to find, being well camouflaged by the dense foliage.  The male has a creamy-white head and neck, a white upper chest and a reddish brown lower chest. The tail and bill of the female resemble that of the male, but otherwise the plumage of the female is black, and the ocular skin is blue. The bird has a very small and severely fragmented population which is undergoing a very rapid continuing decline as a result of lowland deforestation and hunting. For these reasons it is listed as Endangered.

photo by Toby Pagulayan Jr. (PALI)

The Rufous-headed Hornbill or the Visayan wrinkled hornbill can be recognized by the yellow throat and ocular skin for the male, and the blue throat and ocular skin for the female. They live in small groups and are noisy. The captive breeding of the Visayan Writhed billed hornbill in the Agro-Eco Park began in 1995 and in January of 2005 the first successful breeding in the whole world took place. According to IUCN the Writhe-billed Hornbill is actually critically endangered, with some 100 pairs on Panay.

CPU sophomore tourism students for TUMANDOK 2012-Lambunao group

Through “learning by doing” and scientific study, the local government of Lambunao through its tourism-oriented municipal mayor, Hon. Reynor Gonzales have gained extensive knowledge of its animal species. The people begun to understand wildlife population trends on their lands and are finding innovative ways to protect and enhance the sensitive habitat on which wildlife depends.

The area is also home to a temperate rainforest blessed with beautiful cascading sceneries of waterfalls, Montillano and Inas where trails leading to these falls offer a moderate hiking experience to its visitors.

The municipality of Lambunao is a 48-kilometer or an hour ride by either jeepney or van from Iloilo City via the terminal fronting Christ the King memorial Park in Jaro. It is a second class municipality in the third district of the province of Iloilo and is comprised of 73 barangays. For more information, please contact Miss Jennifer Osorio- Municipal Tourism Officer at 09102401933.

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