Bleeding-hearts in the Philippines

Posted: 6th March, 2019

Bristol Zoological Society is working to save the Critically Endangered Negros bleeding-heart dove.

Dr Daphne Kerhoas, lecturer in Conservation Science and co-lead for the Philippines Field Project organised the first meeting in a decade between the only two organisations in the world which breed the doves; the Centre for Tropical Conservation Studies, hosted by Silliman University, and the Conservation Breeding Center of the Talarak Foundation.

Since then, discussions have been taking place between all parties and a transfer has been agreed. First to make 110km journey by road will be six bleeding-heart doves – four females and two males.

Dr Kerhoas said: “This is a really important step forward, it is so important that they are collaborating. We really hope this transfer will be the first of many between the two centres.”

The estimated wild population is fewer than 300 adult birds and they are at risk of extinction from habitat loss and hunting. In June, Dr Kerhoas and Nigel Simpson, operations manager at Bristol Zoo’s Wild Place, are travelling to the Philippines to help write a Conservation Action Plan. The plan will detail where the birds are found, the threats they face, and where funds can be spent to help protect them. The captive birds and how they can be used to bolster the wild population will also be part of the plan.

Fernando Gutierez, president of the Talarak Foundation, said “Our breeding centres are vitally important for the future of this species. After seeing the captive population grow, it is good to exchange birds between both of us”.

Dr Robert Guinoo, chair of the Biological Dept. at Silliman University, added: “From the original birds that first arrived at CENTROP several years ago, I am really pleased to see the growth in numbers we have seen and that we are now collaborating between our two zoos for the benefit of the species”.

Bristol Zoological Society, along with sponsors Airbus, have donated money to help maintain an aviary for some of the bleeding-heart doves kept in CENTROP. The society is also working with local partners to create sustainable alternatives to forest depletion and employ forest wardens to monitor the forest and report illegal activities. The society has also established a field station to support students to carry out research on population size and habitat use.

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