One of the initiatives the Antique Government in Western Visayas region in protecting our wild animals’ species such as hornbills is to promote its conservation thus, passed Provincial Ordinance 2020-208, declaring the month of August of every year as “Dulungan Month”. The objective is to increase awareness on the biological, ecological and cultural importance of Rufuos-headed Hornbill (Rhabdotorrhinus waldeni) locally known as Dulungan.
Found in the long stretch of Northwest Panay Peninsula Natural Park (NPPNP) and Central Panay Mountain Range (CPMR) the Dulungan considered as the “farmer of the forest” by helping reforestation through its seed dispersal as they feed on fruit trees. It is an endemic species of hornbill in the Philippines specifically in Panay and Negros islands where despite the conservation effort of the government and private organizations, this beautiful creature is now considered as Critically Endangered (CR) by International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List.
Despite being one of the elusive bird species, Dulungan are in danger because of the forest destruction, illegal cutting of trees, and loss of their natural habitat a reason for them to be now visible to the poachers to sell or worst, kill them.
Recognizing the cultural significance of this elusive bird and being the flagship bird of the Antique Provincial Government, the Dulungan become a highlight of the local Madja-as Festival to establish the importance of their existence and preserving the natural habitat of Dulungan and the other fauna and flora found in the province.
This year’s Dulungan Month theme, “Pispis nga Dulungan, Mangunguma kang Kagubatan, Aton Amligan,” focuses on the intensifying awareness of preserving and conserving our natural resources with the use of the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) Campaign.
The DENR on the other hand, is responsible for the protection of wildlife from poachers and illegal activities inside the forestland by heightening the forest protection and foot patrolling conducted in the NPPNP and CPMR.
“This conservation effort made by the province of Antique is indeed laudable. This precious Dulungan and any other flora and fauna found are a sight to see and preserve. They may not be as many as before but with the help of the LGU, communities, stakeholders, and even tourists their number may gradually increase in time,” said DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Livino B. Duran.
“Rest assured that the DENR will support this endeavor in conserving and protecting our environment and natural resources. Furthermore, illegal poaching, illegal structures, and illegal entry within our Protected Area (PA) are a violation and punishable under the Republic Act No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act,” he added.
Under the RA 9147, the penalty depends not only to the poaching activities but also to the conservation status of the wildlife –Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, Near Threatened or Least Concern.
Aside from the Dulungan, there are other endemic species found in the Panay and Negros Island including the Philippine Spotted Deer (Rusa alfredi), Visayan Warty Pig (Sus cebifrons), Negros Bleeding-Heart Pigeon (Gallicolumba keayi). /DENR 6