Bird Watching is GovGen’s New Ecotourism Attraction

Cape San Agustin, Governor Generoso

DAVAO ORIENTAL— Governor Generoso, the new beehive of tourism activities of this province, eyes bird watching activity as a new tourist attraction in town.

In the months of September and October, different species of birds from Russia, China, Japan, and Korea flock to the world-famous Mount Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, when food becomes scarce in these countries because of the autumn and winter season.

While some of them fly in Indonesia, these birds generally called raptors spend seven months here in the Philippines said Alex Tiongco of the Raptorwatch Network Philippines. “These raptors travel back to their roosting place in March and April where they spend spring and summer seasons,” he said.

Raptorwatch Network Philippines, a private organization that keeps watch of these migratory birds, have identified six raptors coming here namely: Chinese Sparrowhawk, Japanese Sparrowhawk, Peregrine Falcon, Western Osprey, Grey-faced Buzzard, and Crested Honey Buzzard.

Six birds called White-Bellied Sea Eagle, Philippine Serpent Eagle, Brahminy Kite, Philippine Hawk-Eagle, and Rufuos-Bellied Eagle are identified to be resident raptors here in the country.

Tiongco said that these raptors have been migrating here but were never noticed until the year 2013 when their organization started bird watching as a hobby.

For this year’s autumn and winter seasons in northern countries, their organization started monitoring the migration phenomenon on September 18. As of Friday, September 29, Raptorwatch has totaled 4,480 migratory raptors.

“Migration phenomenon is very popular in Taiwan, Thailand, and in practically all parts of Asia. It is because migration phenomenon is very fascinating, especially if they’re flying lower. It is our fascination to fly that entices people to visit this area and witness the migration phenomenon at least twice a year,” Tiongco said.

Stressing that “with appreciation comes conservation”, Tiongco said that birding is not only a tourist come-on but also a call to protect and conserve the environment.

“In Davao Oriental, we are blessed with a migratory pass here which we have to conserve. We have to look for places where they roost so that they can be protected to keep these raptors from dying due to starvation”, he said.

With their birding hobby turned into advocacy, Tiongco underscored that raptors play a significant role in maintaining the nature’s ecological balance.  “They fly here very ravenous and they eat little animals like beetles, snakes, insects, and rats. These species, if not eaten by these raptors, will proliferate and become pests. You see they limit the population. They are that useful. Look at our coconuts here, they are very healthy. They help us control the pests without having to use pesticides. So that’s why we have to conserve them”.

When these raptors’ roosting habitats are well taken care of, Japanese counterpart of Raptorwatch Network Philippines will provide funding for the municipal government of Governor Generoso, Tiongco revealed. Japan, a consistent member of Asian Raptor Research and Conservation Network, has been monitoring the migration of raptors here coming from their country.

Vicente Orencia, Vice Mayor of Governor Generoso town, said that they are working with the Local Government of Davao Oriental and the Governor Generoso College of Arts, Science and Technology in monitoring and conducting researches that will help them come up with strategies in preserving the habitat of migratory birds. Being an environment advocate, Vice Mayor Orencia said that environmental protection and preservation is the key to boosting their town’s ecotourism industry.

“With these migratory raptors coming here, it only means that this place is very pristine and that the environment is good, which should be protected from destructive activities”, he said.

Governor Generoso, not only bestowed with lush mountain ranges, likewise flaunts its rich marine habitat, making it the fishing capital of Davao Oriental. Its white sand beaches and clean seas are ideal for scuba diving activities.

With a total of 20 barangays, of which 14 communities are dependent in marine resources for their livelihood, Vice Mayor Orencia strongly pushes for environmental protection while promoting birding and scuba diving activities as the next premier ecotourism destinations in their town. By Riza Golez/Photo and Video by Eden Jhan Licayan with video footage courtesy of Raptorwatch Network Philippines

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