Palawan Philippine Bird Capital
Puerto Princesa is a bird haven where 24 endemic species are found. Credits to Puerto Princesa CENRO screengrab from PPUR video.

Puerto Princesa City is moving to declare itself as the “Bird Capital of the Philippines”, riding on its popularity as a bird-watching site not only for locals but also for visiting tourists, nature lovers, and environmentalists.

The move to claim the Birding Capital tag was reported by Palawan News as announced by Puerto Princesa City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) head Atty. Carlo Gomez during the opening of the 5th Puerto Princesa Underground River International Bird Photography Race held in the city on November 7 as part of the Subaraw Biodiversity Festival.

Explaining the rationale for the declaration, the CENRO chief noted studies indicating Puerto Princesa as a bird haven for 24 species found only in Palawan.

“Our basis in declaring Puerto Princesa City as the bird capital of the Philippines is because it is easy to find birds here within the urban areas, establishments, in Underground River, and in many other sites. Our city has a total land area of 219,000 hectares that abound with different species of birds,” said Atty. Gomez.

Not only logical but it has been a long time coming. Observers noted that past photography races had participants taking hundreds of photos because there were quite a number of birds always present in the area.

The move has also earned the support of the Department of Tourism (DOT) MIMAROPA.

“Palawan is a repository of flora and fauna. This time, I will get myself involved in declaring Puerto Princesa as the bird capital of the Philippines and that would be the response of the Department of Tourism MIMAROPA. We will just wait for the resolution from Puerto Princesa to reach our office so that we can work out with our principals and tourism promotions board. I tell you frankly, this is a very amazing tourism product because it is not only Puerto Princesa City with Underground River or Narra that has Katala, but in fact, you have all these real fauna and flora,” said DOT MIMAROPA regional director Danilo Intong.

Mayor Lucilo Bayron mentioned that the bird photography race is the first international event in the Subaraw Biodiversity Festival which also supports the move to declare Palawan as the bird capital.

“I just would like to inform everybody, particularly the new participants, we actually started the international bird photography race four years ago and this is the fifth year of having this. Bird photography race is actually the first international event since we started the Subaraw Biodiversity Festival in 2018. I know you recognize Puerto Princesa City as the bird capital of the Philippines,” said the city chief executive.

Twenty-two bird photography teams are competing in the 2019 Puerto Princesa Underground River International Bird Photography Race, among them, Bird Finders, Black Shama Cebu, STWA, Fine Feathered Friends, Haring Ibon, Ibong Adarna, Juan Adobo, La Mesa Birders, Mulawin, Real Tree, SC 194, Team 212, Culion, Hidalgo, Nikon Hornitologists, Sony I, D. Brods, Sony II, Beer Pressure, Tropang Birders, Wing Shaper and Mealworms, and contestants from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia.

The photography contest is presented by the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park – Protected Area Management Board, the City Government of Puerto Princesa, City Environment and Natural Resources Office, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Palawan Geographic Society, and the Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines in partnership with USAID – Protect Wildlife, Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Haring Ibon, and Nikon Philippines.

Palawan, a top island choice of world travelers, is also offering the Nagsipi River Fireflies Watching Tours.

Several projects to protect and care for birds and animal species in the Philippines have been initiated, among them, the declaration of Silliman University as a sanctuary for all wildlife, the UP Diliman Siyap birds-on-campus awareness project, and the University of the Philippines-led inter-university wildlife DNA barcoding project.

SEND cheers to the people of Palawan for moving to showcase and protect its bird and animal species!

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