By Allen Estabillo
GENERAL SANTOS CITY — Environment personnel in Sarangani province have documented nearly 140,000 migratory raptors taking temporary refuge in the last three weeks in a bird sanctuary in the mountainous areas of Glan town.
Dr. Roy Mejorada, in-house veterinarian of the Sarangani Environmental Conservation and Protection Center (ECPC), said Monday such count was based on the latest result of the ongoing scientific survey and study in the area on the presence of the migratory raptors.
Mejorada said the survey formally started last September 19 in four barangays near Mounts Taltak and Gulo, and the Mount Latian Complex. The villages are Laguimit, Cross, Batulaki and Rio del Pilar, which hosted the province’s 2nd Raptor Watch Festival last October 2.
As of last October 5, Mejorada said they already counted a total 139,993 raptors temporarily roosting in parts of the area.
“This is so far the largest number of migratory raptors documented in the area in a three-week span in the last four years,” he said in a report.
At least five migratory raptor species — Chinese Sparrowhawk, Japanese Sparrowhawk, Grey-faced Buzzard, Osprey, and Crested Honey Buzzard — have been spotted in the area.
Mejorada said they expect the total sightings this year to further increase as their monitoring will continue until October 30.
ECPC counted around 78,000 raptors in the area when it launched the formal study and survey from September to October 2016. The figure increased to 130,000 in 2017 and 105,000 in 2018.
The provincial government has partnered with conservation group Raptorwatch Network Philippines for the conduct of the annual study on the migratory raptors, which lasts for 45 days.
ECPC and Raptorwatch group conducted an initial survey on the presence of the migratory raptors in the area in 2014 through a team led by its founder, lawyer Alex Tiongco.
Mejorada said the team traced the route then of the migratory raptors, reaching parts of nearby Davao Occidental province. Citing their study, he said the raptors mainly come from Japan, Taiwan, China as well as parts of Russia.
These enter the country through Ilocos Norte in northern Luzon and passes through portions of the Visayas and Cape San Agustin in Davao Oriental before reaching Glan, Sarangani.
He said the birds stay in the area for at least two months before flying to nearby islands in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and eventually to New Zealand.
“They made the mountains of Taltak, Gulo and Latian as the roosting site so they can rest and hunt for food in the forests,” he added. (PNA)