Ex-drug addicts help saving Philippine eagles

This video says about itself:

The Magnificent Philippine Eagle Nesting in the Wild

23 January 2014

This is a rare video of one of the most critically endangered and least photographed raptor in the world feeding its eaglet. This is the first time that an organization namely the Wild Bird Photographers of the Philippines, Inc. was authorized by the government through the Biodiversity Management Bureau of DENR to document this majestic eagle.

From BirdLife:

12 Apr 2017

Former drug users turn conservationists to save the Philippine Eagle

Former drug users, indigenous people and conservationists form an unlikely team for the noblest of causes: restore the forest where the Haring Ibon lives. And it’s a success.

By Albert Balbutin & Luca Bonaccorsi

Drug addicts, members of the Dumagat ethnic group, and local conservationists. It is rather eclectic, this bunch of people crossing the River Dupinga. The locals know the river all too well, and fear it. It brings water and fish, life really, if the weather is good. But with copious rains it quickly turns into a merciless killer with flash-floods and mudslides.

We are in Luzon, the largest and most intensely populated island of the Philippine archipelago (roughly half the land area of the UK but with the same population).The Dumagat, one of the Philippines’ Indigenous Peoples who call the forest their home, were once hunter-gatherers and nomadic. With the forest offering less and less they live now impoverished, often thanks to small jobs with lowland dwellers.

The drug users belong to the group that has accepted to change their way of life. Here, in the midst of the highly controversial war on drugs” that has seen an escalation in illegal killings and death squads, they call them “surrenderees”.

The conservationists are members of the Haribon Foundation (BirdLife in the Philippines) and worship this place since it’s one of the last habitats of the majestic Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi (Critically Endangered).

It’s in the name of the charismatic “King of the Birds”, Haring Ibon, and its forest, and thanks to the intervention of the local government of Gabaldon, that these three very different groups of people have come together.

Their mission? Get the “drug surrenderees” to plant high-value fruit trees not too far away from where Philippine Eagle sightings have taken place as part of their community service.

And in order to plant mango, rambutan, guyabano, langka, and coffee, as well as native trees such as narra and duhat, the forest knowledge held by the Dumagat, and the conservationists, is much needed. “Forest restoration is what Gabaldon needs. It is an investment that could save the future generations of the municipality”, says Sam Manalastas, Community Organizer for Haribon.

For months now Manalastas has been working with Dumagat members and other sectors in the town of Gabaldon to come up with a Critical Habitat Management Plan. The plan involves five years of conservation actions to help protect the Haring Ibon of Mt. Mingan, which lives not too far from the fast-growing municipalities in the lowland areas of Gabaldon and San Luis in the Aurora province.

“By planting trees,” adds Manalastas, “they are helping not only the biodiversity of Mt. Mingan, but also their municipality in becoming resilient against climate change.

”As the present administration’s war on drugs continues in many areas of the country, the public remains divided on what to expect. With killings still taking place, some groups support the call to arms against drugs and the crimes associated with it, while others declare it an assault to human rights and the judicial process.

The trek to the planting site is not the easiest one: a river to cross, rough terrain, steep hills. Puffing and panting up a grassy hill, the former addict is probably having second thoughts about his “healthy rehab”, but then he smiles at the view and pushes on. By the end of the day, their foreheads wet with honest work, mission is completed. For the local government the initiative sends a strong message: the area is safe.

For the Dumagat a good pay, the recognition of their forest wisdom and a step towards inclusion. For drug users a chance to change life (and get home safe). For conservationists a small contribution to the health of Mt. Mingan, home to the King of the Birds. The most obvious of win-wins. Conservation has done it again.

Filipina ‘comfort women’ protest Japan’s Abe

This video says about itself:

Comfort Women Survivors Protest Against Japanese Prime Minister’s Visit

12 January 2017

Some surviving comfort women in the Philippines rallied on Thursday to protest against the Japanese prime minister’s visit to the country, asking for apology and compensation for the crimes the Japanese invaders committed against humanity during World War II.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Philippines: Comfort women lead protest against Abe

Friday 13th January 2017

PROTESTERS led by four World War II Filipino sex slaves gathered in front of the Japanese embassy in Manila yesterday against a state visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Left-wing umbrella group Bayan, which is among the organisations supporting the “comfort women,” said Mr Abe’s trip was not a mere “social visit.”

Comfort women and girls were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army in occupied territories before and during the second world war.

Bayan said: “The visit of the Japanese PM is another step to slowly establish its military presence” through regular naval port calls and joint military exercises with US forces.

Japan wants to flex its military muscle in the region as a junior partner of the US. It has passed security legislation that goes against the spirit of its peace constitution.”

Saving endangered Philippines oriole, other wildlife

Isabela oriole

From BirdLife:

Sanctuary declared for elusive oriole once believed extinct

By Alex Dale, 29 Sep 2016

With its yellow and olive-green plumage perfectly camouflaging it against the tree canopies, the Isabela Oriole Oriolus isabellae, a lowland forest specialist endemic to the island of Luzon in the Philippines, doesn’t intend for itself to be seen by humans. And unfortunately, for many decades it wasn’t.

Due to the rapid and widespread deforestation which has plucked Luzon of much of its forest cover (down as much as 83% since the 1930s in some areas), numbers of this little-known species plummeted such that for a time until its rediscovery in December 1993, it was widely believed to have gone extinct.

Today we know there are still a few small populations clinging to survival, but the species is still at dire risk of extinction due to the ongoing loss and fragmentation of its forest habitat. In recent years Isabela Oriole has been recorded in only five scattered locations throughout the island, and with an estimated population of just 50-249 adults remaining, it richly deserves its current IUCN Red List rating of Critically Endangered.

Due to its scarcity, little is known about the Isabela Oriole’s feeding and nesting habits, and even its call was not officially recorded until 2003. However, the species finally received some much-needed visibility thanks to a project made possible through funding and support from the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP).

Project ORIS (a contraction of the Isabela Oriole’s scientific name) sees a team of young conservationists partner with Isabela State University and the Mabuwaya Foundation to secure the species’ survival. The project’s objective is to survey all remaining areas of suitable habitat on Luzon, create a conservation strategy and launch an awareness-raising campaign for the elusive bird, including promoting it as a flagship species for the remaining forests that are essential to the long-term survival of both it and various other species that share its dwindling habitat.

The project was set in motion in 2012 when the team received a Future Conservationist Award from the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP), a grant that enables young conservationists to undertake projects across Africa, Asia & the Pacific, South America and Eurasia. The programme works to build the leadership capacity of young conservation professionals working on important habitats and species in places with limited capacity. A partnership between BirdLife International, Flora & Fauna International and the Wildlife Conservation Society, the programme goes beyond grant giving because of its support and mentoring, alumni network and inclusion of valuable stakeholder and community interaction in all successful projects.

Several years of painstaking efforts from those involved with the ORIS Project paid off this August when local officials in Santa Margarita in the municipality of Baggao declared a 5,500-hectare tract of forest as a wildlife sanctuary. The declaration will protect habitat critical not only to the Isabela Oriole, but also to other threatened endemic species, including the spectacular Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga jefferyi. This iconic bird of prey, one of the world’s largest raptors, has also benefited from CLP support in the past.

This showcases the real and long-term impact the CLP programme can have, not only in terms of conservation objectives, but also in the capacity building of young conservationists and organisations. The CLP offers grants and support to numerous projects every year, with 18 projects successfully applying for grants in the 2016 cycle, with target species ranging from dugongs in Mozambique to cloud forest frogs in Mexico.

Many BirdLife Partners have been able to carry out vital work thanks to grants from the CLP in recent years. The CLP’s focus is on building the conservation capacity of individuals from low-income, biodiversity-rich countries where the need and potential for impact is greatest, and 80% of eligible countries within the BirdLife partnership have previously received grants. Thanks to CLP’s input, great strides have been made in the conservation of Critically Endangered species such as the Araripe Manakin (Antilophia bokermanni) in Brazil and Liben Lark (Heteromirafra archeri) in Ethiopia.

The programme is now accepting proposals for 2017. The project countries supported are currently: Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Brazil, China, Egypt, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Mexico, Mozambique, Oman, South Africa, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, UAE and Vietnam. The full team is not required to be from these countries – for the full list of eligibility criteria, visit the CLP grants page.

There are three levels of conservation team awards:

Future Conservationist Awards: Up to $12,500 per project.
Conservation Follow-Up Awards: Up to $20,000 per project and available only to previous CLP Future Conservationist Award winners.
Conservation Leadership Awards: Up to $40,000 per project and available only to previous CLP Follow-Up Award winners.

Award winners get additional support to implement their project with a two-weeks training. Each project sends a team member for this event and is thereafter expected to train their team on conservation leadership and management modules ranging from project planning to stakeholder behaviour change to mention a few.

The application deadline for ALL awards is the 28th November 2016.

Those applying for either a Conservation Follow-Up Award or Conservation Leadership Award must submit a Logical Framework and the Final Report of their previous CLP project by 17th October 2016. If the Logical Framework and Final Report are satisfactory, the team will be notified of this by 31st October 2016, and can afterwards submit by the 28th November 2016.

This video says about itself:

29 September 2016

Fresh out of Conservation Leadership & Management training, three young African conservationists tells us about their experiences and plans for their projects…

Lyndre Nel, 25, from Cape Town, South Africa
She is working with her team to protect the endangered flora of the Papenkuils Wetland, Western Cape, South Africa

Gelica Eugenio Inteca, 26, from Mozambique
Dugongs are on of the most difficult animals to observe in the wild. Gelica’s project aims to find them in Quirimbas National Park, and to work with fishermen to increase awareness and protection.

Ezequiel Fabiano, 36, from Angola
He is working with his team to conduct wildlife and threats inventories of the Luenge-Luiana and Mavinga National Parks, and improve their management.

All thanks to projects and training provided by the Conservation Leadership Programme, a joint initiative between BirdLife International, Fauna & Flora International and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Philippine eagle flies, slow motion video

This video says about itself:

Slow Motion Philippine Eagle Flight

13 July 2016

To understand the unique flight styles of different bird species, scientists use a technique called wing tracing. It involves tracing the trajectory of a point on their wing during a series of wingbeats. The pattern of a bird’s wingbeat depends on how far a bird can move its wing in any given direction, which is determined by the length and shape of the wing. Soaring birds such as this Philippine Eagle, for example, show an elliptical shaped wingtip path when viewed from the side.

Soaring Philippine eagle video

This July 2016 video sows a soaring Philippine eagle.

Philippine eagle landing, video

This video says about itself:

Philippine Eagle Landing on a Branch

13 July 2016

Birds might be known for flight, but they must also be adept at landing. This Philippine Eagle lands by orienting its body vertically, spreading its wings and flapping to slow down, and outstretching its feet, reaching for a landing spot with its large talons.

World’s biggest pearl discovery in Philippines

Giant pearl, photo by Aileen Cynthia Maggay-Amurao

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Largest pearl in the world discovered

Today, 17:38

In the Philippines probably the biggest pearl in the world has been discovered. The colossus is 61 centimeters long, 30 centimeters wide and weighs 34 kilos. The value is estimated at around 90 million euros, various media report. The pearl hitherto considered the largest weighs ‘only’ 6.4 kilos.

A fisherman found the now discovered pearl ten years ago near Palawan Island when his anchor got stuck in a [giant] clam. He had no idea what was the value of the jewel and hid it all the time under his bed, as a lucky charm.

Only when the fisherman’s house recently burned down he went with his find to the Philippine authorities. Who have studied the pearl, and now are still waiting for confirmation from experts that it is indeed the largest in the world. A Filipino official put a photo of the pearl on Facebook.