DENR wants Cebu Hawk Owls protected; awards biologists

Posted on September 26, 2012

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Cebu hawk owl. (Contributed by Godfrey Jakosalem)

by Jessa J. Agua, Correspondent

THE environment department awarded the scientists who discovered the Cebu Hawk Owl, the third endemic bird species in the province.

Biologists Lisa Paguntalan and Godfrey Jakosalem were honored last Monday by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – 7 (DENR-7).

Biologist Lisa Marie Paguntalan receives a certificate from DENR-7 Regional Executive Director Isabelo Montejo for discovering the Cebu Hawk Owl as an endemic species in Cebu. Her partner biologist Godfrey Jakosalem also receives the award. (CONTRIBUTED)

The owl’s scientific name is Ninox rumseyi, and is  found in  remaining forest patches in Alcoy, Cebu and barangay Tabunan of Cebu City, all part of the  Central Cebu Protected Landscape (CCPL), said DENR-7 Regional Executive Director Dr. Isabelo R. Montejo.

Dr. Pamela Rasmussen of the Michigan State University, who led the research team, said each of the new species not only differed in body size and plumage and had unique calls.

Two other endemic bird species in Cebu  are the Black Shama or Siloy (Copychus cebuensis) and Cebu Flowerpecker (Dicaeum quadricolor).

Paguntalan and Jakosalem of the Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PBFCI) also discovered the wider presence of  the Siloy in other parts of Cebu in the 1990s.

Montejo urged the conservation of these  birds.

“The challenge now among the various stakeholders particularly the communities is to sustain the protection and conservation of these newly found species as these contribute to  ecological balance and biodiversity,” he said.

Jakosalem, a graduate of the University of San Carlos in Cebu who did an ecological study on the hawk owl, estimated that only 200 pairs are left in Cebu and were considered “endangered.”

During the international launch of the discovery of the bird species last month, Ace Durano,  PBCF trustee and former tourism secretary, urged stronger conservation measures.

“We don’t want them to fall in the next category and become extinct,” he said.

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