PHILIPPINE HORNBILLS CONSERVATION PROGRAMME
For such a small country, the Philippines supports an astonishing diversity of hornbills. At least 9 species (of 4 genera) and 10 subspecies are generally recognised. All are endemic and all have relatively small (in some cases minuscule) ranges, with particular forms occurring only on particular islands or groups of islands that were formerly connected by land bridges.
given the gross extent of destruction of native forests, coupled with
rampant hunting of these birds for food (hornbills are still regarded
as a delicacy in some places, best eaten as finger-food or 'pulutan'
In recognition of this situation, a new, tripartite 'Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)', formally signifying the establishment of a 'Philippines Hornbills Conservation Programme (PHCP)', has just been signed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR, Govt. of the Philippines), Vogelpark Avifauna (VA, Netherlands) and the North of England Zoological Society (Chester Zoo, U. K). Although this a most welcome development, it has also taken some time to accomplish as the original proposal and first draft of the covering MOA were submitted to the DENR in 1998. Moreover, these documents were not only intended to enable formal recognition of this Programme, but to facilitate development of a range of interrelated conservation activities, many of which had been initiated several years earlier. To date, these activities, which are being developed and coordinated under the auspices of the 'FFI - Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Programme', include:
a) field status
surveys - e.g. southern Luzon and offshore islands, Mindoro,
b) habitat protection
and restoration - i.e. local community forest wardening
of properly structured conservation breeding and research
d) production and
distribution of public awareness/education materials - e.g.
of local biodiversity conservation workshops and teacher's
f) personnel training
- both locally (field research and captive management)
All of these activities have and are being conducted by, or in close collaboration with, various local 'partner' agencies, notably: University of the Philippines in Los Banos (UPLB), West Visayas State University (WVSU), Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation (NFEFI), SU-Center for Studies in Tropical Conservation (CenTrop, Silliman University) and the Cebu Biodiversity Conservation Foundation (CBCF). Funding support has been kindly provided by a variety of local and international agencies and 'partners' - mostly zoos and zoological societies in Europe, USA and Australia - and annual, core funding support provided by VA and NEZS.