New research station in the Philippines to save critically endangered species

Posted: 4th September, 2017

Conservationists from Bristol Zoological Society have established a new research station deep in the forest on Negros Island in the Philippines.

The new facility will allow experts to carry out in-depth studies of endangered animals living in remote and previously inaccessible areas of the forest.

Bristol Zoological Society has been working on Negros Island in the Philippines since 2014, predominantly striving to protect the Critically Endangered Negros bleeding heart dove. It is feared there are now less than 400 pairs of Negros bleeding heart doves left in the wild.

The Philippines is home to more than 20,000 endemic species of plants and animals. However, 95 per cent of the country’s forests have already been cut down, mainly to grow crops. Bristol Zoo is working to protect a host of endangered species and the habitats they live in and carries out vital research into the animals that live there.

The Zoo’s Philippines conservation project is led by Dr Daphne Kerhoas, a lecturer in conservation science at Bristol Zoo and Nigel Simpson, head of operations at Wild Place Project.

Dr Kerhoas explains the significance of the new field station: “The new research station will be vital for enabling our conservationists to carry out studies on local wildlife, deep in the forest, allowing them to camp there for longer periods of time and carry out much more extensive research than ever before.”

The new camp includes a bamboo cabin as sleeping accommodation, a basic kitchen, toilets, and a shower fed by a nearby waterfall.

Dr Kerhoas added: “This is a significant development for our work in the Philippines and we hope to be able to build a much better picture of the richness of the biodiversity of the forest. Our presence there will also have a positive impact in terms of discouraging illegal activities such as hunting and deforestation in the area as well as generating additional income for local people.”

It also means researchers will be able to devote more time and resources to studying other endangered animals in the forests, such as Visayan warty pigs, Rufous-headed hornbills, Visayan tarictic hornbills and Philippine spotted deer.

Bristol Zoological Society is collaborating with, and funding, an organisation called PENAGMANNAKI which works on their behalf in the area. The team work alongside local farmers to promote the sustainable development of the area by developing livelihoods that don’t rely on the forests, and to find common solutions to reduce the impact of deforestation.

Earlier this year, conservationists from Bristol Zoo captured remarkable footage of Visayan warty pigs and Visayan leopard cats roaming the forests of southern Negros. The videos were captured on camera traps. It was the first time warty pigs had been caught on camera in this region.

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