Studies say Palawan animals’ extinction looms
Scientists and conservation experts said yesterday that Palawan, Phillippines is in danger of becoming the area where some of the country's most important species are going to go extinct due to the destruction of habitat and the illegal wildlife trade that goes on there.
“All threatened species in Palawan are endemic and they are facing total extinction because of our neglect in protecting their habitats which are the low elevation forests,” Aldrin Mallari, a foremost ornithologist [expert on birds], told the Inquirer.
Mallari presented a study at a three-day bird festival organized here by a global network of bird watchers and conservation groups.
The study said all of Palawan’s endangered animal species live in low elevation areas and forest fringes that are classified as “buffer” areas and open to human intrusion.
Palawan is covered by a special law, Republic Act No. 7611, which categorizes old growth forests and areas above 1,000 meters in elevation as “core zones,” or areas exempt from human development.
“There is a mismatch in the protected area systems and the requirements of important species. All threatened species in Palawan live in what had been designated as buffer areas and these are open to exploitation, primarily mining,” Mallari said.
Mallari was alluding to dozens of mining applications all over Palawan, particularly in the nickel and chromite-rich southern Palawan, as he criticized government agencies issuing mining permits and endorsements for not taking into consideration Palawan’s endangered species.
“It is easier to secure a mining permit than to request for a permit to conduct scientific expeditions,” Mallari said.
There has been increases in the illegal trade of the blue napped parrot and the Philippine cockatoo. The birds are captured and sold to the black market.
The Katala Foundation study showed that there are 13 species of mammals that are endemic to Palawan, and 11 bird species that are threatened by the illegal wildlife trade.
There are only 1,000 left of the Philippie cockatoo.