Archive for the ‘conservation’ Category

Turning off the lights in defense of planet Earth

March 29, 2009

There’s a good feeling that can be derived from participating in the Earth Hour celebration—-a campaign by environmental groups to bring consciousness for the need to conserve our planet’s resources. More than 50 years ago, we have recognized the polluting influence of human activity on earth and only lately that we’re made aware of global warming—a concept of environmental change that divides scientists and laymen—those who believe it is real and those who don’t.

On March 28, 2009, between 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM non-essential lights on the Eiffel tower of Paris, the acropolis of Greece, the ancient Pyramids of Egypt, the Bird’s Nest Olympic stadium of China, Vatican City’s St. Peter’s Basilica, the Roman Colloseum of Italy and the Empire State building of New York City will be dimmed to bring the message of saving the planet.

More than 2,800 municipalities in 84 countries worldwide agree to shut down lights for 60 minutes to mark Earth Hour so that people can “internalize” the issue of caring for the environment. In the Philippines, the streets of Manila together with a hundred more towns and cities will be blackened in solidarity to the Earth Hour.

“The Earth Hour event is a message of hope and action,” Cebu Archbishop Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal said. “We will send this message to our world leaders, so that we can look forward to a meaningful action on their part — an action that can spell a big difference for our world… According to DENR regional secretary Antonio Principe, the country expects to save at least 560 megawatts of power during the one-hour lights off period, equivalent to cutting down roughly 330 tons on carbon dioxide emission.”—-Philstar (03/28/09/ Gatdula, D)

Whether global warming is just part of the normal cycle of the planet or a true man-made phenomenon, it is clear that humanity must work hard to lessen the pollution that foul our environment. The earth is now inhabited by about 7 billion people, a threefold rise in the last 300 years, capable of accelerating environmental damage on the irreplaceable lifeforms of the planet.(Photo Credits: dstueber; Wootang01; Ollik) =0=

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World’s largest egg up for sale

March 28, 2009

Believed to be the planet’s biggest egg laid in the 17th century by an elephant bird of Madagascar, the huge orb is up for sale in a Chelsea antique fair.

Offered for 5,000 pounds (about $7,000) in UK this week, the egg has a circumference of more than a meter. It is supposed to have been laid by a now-extinct flightless big bird larger than an ostrich —scientifically called (Aepyornis maximus) which stands about 10 to 11 feet. The egg’s volume is about 160x more than that of the chicken. (Photo Credit: wikipedia; http://wagerwebentertainmente/) =0=

Elephant Bird (Aepyornis maximus)
Source: Answers.com

(Aepyornithidae)
Class: Aves
Order: Struthioniformes
Suborder: Aepyornithes
Family: Aepyornithidae
Thumbnail description: Extinct, large, flightless birds of massive build, known only from fragmentary fossil remains
Size: Some species probably 10 ft (3 m), 880 lb (400 kg)
Number of genera, species: 2 genera; 7 species
Habitat: Thought to have inhabited woodland and forest in southwest Madagascar
Conservation status: Extinct
Distribution: Madagascar

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Baby whale shark (butanding) found in Sorsogon

March 10, 2009

The World Wide Fund (WWF) –Philippines, a nature conservation group, reports the rescue of a baby whale shark in Pilar, Sorsogon. The 15-inch sea creature locally called butanding was captured on Friday, March 6, 2009.

After documentation and making sure the animal wasn’t hurt, the baby butanding was released in deep waters by marine conservation officers. They said the encounter of the young for the first time in the area suggests Sorsogon is a breeding and birthing place for this animal.

At certain months of the year, tourists visit Sorsogon to watch adult friendly whale sharks interact with people. (Photo Credit: WWF)=0=

RELATED BLOG: “More of Andy’s Whaleshark (Butanding)” Posted by mesiamd at 9/15/2008; “Encounter With Whaleshark (Butanding) at Pasacao, Camarines Sur” Posted by Andygimpaya at 9/15/2008

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New frogfish species found in Indonesia

March 1, 2009

A newly discovered odd frogfish called “psychedelica” which according to a University of Washington biology professor is a member of the antennariid genus, Histiophryne is discovered in Indoensia.

The fish looks odd. Its pectoral fins on the underside appear like legs and its skin is covered by coral-like dendritic stripes which probably serve as a disguise in its biodiverse tropical habitat.

The colorful inhabitant of shallow waters is said to bounce like a rubber ball. It has a gelatinous fist-sized body covered with thick folds of skin that protect it from sharp-edged corals. It also has a flat face with eyes directed forward, like humans, and a huge, yawning mouth.—- Yahoo.News/ AP (02/28/09, McDowell, J)

Encountered in Ambon Island in Eastern Indonesia by scuba divers, the mustard-colored fish with cerulean blue eyes was reported by Ted Pietsch, in a paper which appeared in a recent publication of Copeia, the journal of the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists. A genetic study recognized this fish to be a new species. (Photo Credit: AP/ seaphotos.com/ David Hall)

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Hundreds of dolphins disoriented in shallow Philippine waters

February 11, 2009

There’s a great deal of empathy that was elicited by the sight of hundreds of dolphins stranded in shallow waters of Orion and Pilar, Bataan, somewhere close to Manila Bay in the Philippines. For reasons that aren’t clear, the docile and friendly sea mammals were stranded on Tuesday, February 10, 2008, unable to swim back to deeper waters.

Fishermen and town folks from neighboring villages came in droves to help drive the melon-head dolphins, numbering about 200 to 300, back to sea. Admirably, the villagers followed the appeal of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to help and not harm the marooned animals.

“The unusual occurrence may have been triggered by a sea quake that could have damaged the dolphins’ eardrums and disoriented them, or the pod could have been following a sick or injured leader, Malcolm Sarmiento, director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, said in a telephone interview.”—-AOL News/ AP (02/10/09, Marquez, B; Cerojano, C)

Though the group of agile air-breathing animals eventually made it to the open sea, there were three dolphins found dead. One was pregnant and one was a young baby. According to the animal doctor who examined the remains, two adult dolphins revealed fractured eardrums. (Photo Credit: Malaya) =0=

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Hundreds of dolphins disoriented in shallow Philippine waters

February 11, 2009

There’s a great deal of empathy that was elicited by the sight of hundreds of dolphins stranded in shallow waters of Orion and Pilar, Bataan, somewhere close to Manila Bay in the Philippines. For reasons that aren’t clear, the docile and friendly sea mammals were stranded on Tuesday, February 10, 2008, unable to swim back to deeper waters.

Fishermen and town folks from neighboring villages came in droves to help drive the melon-head dolphins, numbering about 200 to 300, back to sea. Admirably, the villagers followed the appeal of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) to help and not harm the marooned animals.

“The unusual occurrence may have been triggered by a sea quake that could have damaged the dolphins’ eardrums and disoriented them, or the pod could have been following a sick or injured leader, Malcolm Sarmiento, director of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, said in a telephone interview.”—-AOL News/ AP (02/10/09, Marquez, B; Cerojano, C)

Though the group of agile air-breathing animals eventually made it to the open sea, there were three dolphins found dead. One was pregnant and one was a young baby. According to the animal doctor who examined the remains, two adult dolphins revealed fractured eardrums. (Photo Credit: Malaya) =0=

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Buhi’s tabios—world’s smallest edible fish still suffers excessive predation

February 8, 2009

Despite protective ordinances to help tabios thrive, the smallest edible fish in the world (Mistithys luzonensis) is still threatened by extinction in Camarines Sur. Also known as sinarapan, the fish is still under strain in its natural habitat in Lake Buhi because of over-grazing and changes in its fresh-water home.

“Ronilo H. Leal, lake management officer of Buhi town local government unit (LGU), pointed out to the rampant use of motorized post nets in the 1980s which he said totally banished the sinarapan from Lake Buhi in the 1980s.

Going by the 10 percent fish-cage occupation required by the zoning provision of RA 8550, the proliferation of fish cages here have exceeded what the law requires, occupying some 20 percent of the 1,800-ha area of Lake Buhi (located 300 ft. above sea level), according to Leal. —-Bicol Mail (02/05/09, Escandor J. Jr; Davila, J. R.)

Aside from excessive hunting by local fishermen in Buhi, Camarines Sur, the construction of fish cages to raise commercial tilapia altered fish habitat, decreasing and crowding the small tabios. The edible goby which measures about 10 mm. and inhabits the 18-hectare lake in Bicol is a delicacy in the area. It also thrives in adjacent fresh water sanctuaries like Lake Bato, Manapao and Katugday.

Sinarapan almost disappeared in the 1980s and the local government resorted to setting free tabios fries on the lake to augment its population. Though the program had been so far partially successful, excessive fish harvest persisted. Natural predation by other fish species continued to pose problems against the fish survival.

Collective effort to save the fish is on going, but unless measures to protect sinarapan are implemented, extinction (though conservation urgency is low at this time,) is still possible. (Photo Credit: Nindy2008; Lake Buhi, PD x2) =0=

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UP’s plant-man extraordinaire

November 24, 2008

For a combination of inventiveness, diligence, and genius, Leonard Co turns out to be a gem which brings gladness and admiration to those who know him. The state university’s unique botanist is a rarity who rivals the reclusiveness of Rafflesia leonardi, a diffident flower in the hinterlands of Kidapawan, Mindanao named after him. Leonard Co is known to many Ibalonians for good reasons.

Lorna Vigil and Annelee Badiola-Lojo. M.D. remember him as a co- member of Samahan ng mga Mag-aaral sa Pilipino (SAMAPIL,) a socio-cultural organization in the UP campus. Ibalon doctors like Arnel V. Malaya, Julius A. Lecciones, Ray R. G. Rayel, Nestor A. Valenciano, Andy Gimpaya, and many others may have striking memories of the amazing guy of Botany who frequented the Science pavilion. Leonard was there to beguile them of his plants. A likeable personality with a prodigious drive to teach, the smart Leonard immersed himself in the world of the flora, his pure love and abiding source of satisfaction.

“The Last Dodo of Botany”
by Lorna Vigil

Leonard L. Co inspires many who know him. More than three decades after I met him the first and only time, when I was a young freshman, he still has this extraordinary liking for plants. No one doubted his expertise in botany, though in UP, for him, other subjects outside botany were irritations; they stood on the way of his focus. With a passion for nature and stubborn insistence to pursue science in his own terms, it took him 32 years to get his BS diploma —a proof of his real mettle and purpose.

Diliman’s plant-man extraordinaire has brought some of life’s important lessons —- the most compelling perhaps is that outstanding men like him do persist and prevail. Ignoring physics and math, Leonard’s unusual years of study has gained him recognition more than he could imagine. A phenomenal gift of our school to science, his ability is now at work in the Conservation International and the UP Herbarium. With much to share, here is what he said that I find very interesting:

O nga pala, nakalimutan kong magpakilala aside doon sa organizational affiliations ko,” says Leonard whose school ID goes back few decades ago: 72-00993, BS Botany.

Bilang the quintessential ‘Bobo ng Diliman’ who refused to let physics and math mess up with my own brand of education, ngayong taon lang ako grumadweyt. I’m the last dodo bird of the now extinct BS Botany program.”

Naging myembro ng SAMAPIL noong huling dako ng 1973, dahil sa personal appeal nito sa akin bilang kanlungan ng kritikal pero malikhaing porma ng dissent. Naively, inassume ko na pwede rin akong mahawa sa abilidad ng mga manunulat na kasapi dito.

Well, obviously hindi sapat yun and I ended up doing something else in botany and conservation science. At any rate, SAMAPIL ang unang legal na organisasyong sinalihan ko sa UP matapos ibaba ang martial law.

Palagay ko’y ipinanganak din akong artist, pero ang medium na kadalasang ginagamit ko ay oil— cooking oil to be exact. Mahilig akong magluto (at kumain). Aside from plant specimens, I collect all sorts of protest and national liberation songs (banyaga man o dito sa Pinas, at salamat sa limewire, dumarami na ang acquisitions ko).

‘Di ako marunong bumasa ng nota, pero natutunan kong tumugtog ng oido sa harmonica (nakakainis nga lamang at ine-equate ang instrumentong ito sa pamumulubi). Inggit to death ako pag nakakakita ng mga virtuoso sa classical guitar, piano at violin.

Pasensya na po kung di ako nakakasali sa inter-aksyon ninyo sa e-group o mga jammings. Madalas kasi sa hindi, andun ako sa natural habitat ko sa mga bundok at natitira pa nating kagubatan. Pero keep in touch at tuloy lang ang pagpapadala ng mga jokes na mahirap ipagwari sa katatawanan at realidad ng buhay.

Masaya ako dahil nabigyang halaga ang aking kaunting kontribusyon sa Botany na naging pangunahing argumento ng mga supporters ko sa Institute of Biology, sa College Assembly hanggang University Council para magawaran ng UP diploma nung nakaraang graduation (2008). Kahit man lolo na akong uugud-ugod nabigyan na rin ng BS (after 32 years haha!). O ano, astig na rin akong UP grad tulad ninyo!—Leonard L. Co, Conservation International- Philippines; Herbarium, Institute of Biology, College of Science, University of the Philippines. (Photo Credits: Josefontheroad; JulieBarcelona)=0=

RELATED BLOG: “Pygmy tarsier of Indonesia rediscovered after 85 years & a five-petalled mountain flower in Mindanao, Philippines named” Posted by mesiamd at 11/23/2008

Pygmy tarsier of Indonesia rediscovered after 85 years & a five-petalled mountain flower in Mindanao, Philippines named

November 23, 2008

The Indonesian Pygmy Tarsier (Tarsius pumila)


This week, Indonesia’s pygmy tarsier (Tarsius pumilus), the close cousin of the Philippine tarsier (Tarsius syrichta,) is reported to be thriving in the tropical forest of the island of Sulawesi. Said to be extinct since 85 years ago, the small primate which looks like a monkey approximates the size of a mouse, weighing about 2 ounces and measuring 4 inches.

The nocturnal tailed animal which lives on trees mainly thrives on insects but also eats small crustaceans, lizards, and other tiny animals. Covered by thick brown-gray fur reminiscent of the “gremlins,” it has a characteristic big pair of eyes, proptosed like oversized shiny buttons.

A group of scientists headed by Texas A & M University Sharon Gursky-Doyen have been following up the pygmy tarsiers until they captured three which were fitted with radio collars for more studies.

Coincident to the rediscovery of the pygmy tarsier is the identification of a new plant species which grows in Cagayan, Philippines. Named after Leonard Co, a botanist of the Conservation International, Rafflesia leonardi is unique for its 5-petalled parasitic blooms with no leaves, stems, and roots.

Rafflesia leonardi

Found in the rainforest of Kidapawan, Mindanao, 300 to 700 meters above sea level in the environs of Mount Apo, the rare flower fully blooms in about 10 months and wilts in 7 days. The new species which was identified last May 2008 is the 4th Rafflesia discovered in Luzon and the 8th in the country.

Two things come to mind. First is the growing need for nature conservation in the face of the dangers of extinction of both fauna and flora. Second, human interference (i.e. loss of habitat, predation, pollution etc.) in the lives of these plants and animals may have both beneficial and deleterious consequences which may affect species survival. (Photo Credits: YahooNews/SharonGurskyDoyen; YahooNewsPhilippines; Mediatejack) =0=

The Philippine Tarsier (Tarsius syrichta)

Outside the Philippines, a number of relatives of the Philippine tarsier can be found, among them the Bornean tarsier (Tarsius bancanus) of Borneo and Sumatra, the spectral tarsier (Tarsius spectrum), the lesser spectral tarsier or pygmy tarsier (Tarsius pumilus), and Dian’s tarsier (Tarsius dianae) of Sulawesi, Indonesia. The pygmy tarsier, by the way, is considerably smaller than the Philippine tarsier, while the pygmy mouse lemur, found only in Madagascar, is now being recognized as the smallest primate in the world.

The tarsier was first introduced to Western biologists through the description given to J. Petiver by the missionary J.G. Camel of an animal said to have come from the Philippines (Hill, 1955). Petiver published Camel’s description in 1705 and named the animal Cercopithecus luzonis minimus which was the basis for Linnaeus’ (1758) Simia syrichta and eventually Tarsius syrichta. Among the locals, the tarsier is known as “mamag”, “mago”, “magau”, “maomag”, “malmag” and “magatilok-iok”.” Source: Bohol.com/Philippine Tarsier Foundation.

RELATED BLOGS: “Palawan wildlife faces near extinction” Posted by mesiamd at 9/14/2008; “Despite conservation effort, 1/3 of world’s coral reefs face danger of extinction” Posted by mesiamd at 10/23/2008

My caged munias & the birds in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s mind

November 20, 2008

The captive munias (rignos, mayas; chestnut mannikins,) didn’t escape my mind when I read the old elegant lines from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s paean for the birds, part of what he wrote in May-Day and Other Pieces. The 19th century American essayist-poet’s beautifully crafted words made my heart thumping as thoughts of childhood crossed my mind. All the birds which I wanted as pets died. I was regretful. From the ugly experience, I wondered if I truly learned wholesome values mentioned by the great inspiring American writer-philosopher in the following lines:


O birds, your perfect virtues bring,
Your song, your forms, your rhythmic flight,
Your manners for your heart’s delight,
Nestle in hedge, or barn, or roof,
Here weave your chamber weather-proof,
Forgive our harms, and condescend
To man, as to a lubber friend,
And, generous, teach his awkward race
Courage, and probity, and grace!”

—from May Day and Other Pieces by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

I felt remorse over keeping those mayas in a small bamboo cage. For measly 5 centavos each, I bought the tiny birds at the gate of the grade school where I studied. At home, I was excited to play with the popular avian species which frequent the grasses and rice paddies of Bicol. With fast wings ready to fly, their feet were restrained by strings tied on my hand.

The mayas were good to see inside the bamboo cage on the window sill. Each time I went near, feathers hummed like the sound of an electric razor. Brighter and more vibrant than Joseph’s dream coat, their fluffy feathers and tiny feet were wonderful.

I sensed their fear and boredom even if I fed them with rice grains from the fields. It was stupid of me to egg them to bathe in a water basin the way ducks do in the marsh. Recalling how they groomed when rain left pools of water on the pavement outside, I watched them flap their fiery brown wings. I craved that they lay eggs in a nest I made from dried zakate leaves.

Their silvery beaks were no match to the rigid bamboo enclosure which they tried to break. Their brown puzzling eyes sought every little chance to escape and be free.

If they could speak, they might have insisted flying up the lemon tree or have them build nests in a bush as thorny as the bougainvilleas. I heard them burst in a beautiful song with the soul of a passing breeze. In spite of my watch, all of them didn’t last. One after another, they died.

Although I was pure and diligent in my care for the munias, I knew they succumbed to stress. The alert birds badly needed liberty and they might have been distressed like the idle prisoners in jail. So self-absorbed of having them, I couldn’t resist keeping them in the cage. At that age, I had little idea what cruelty meant.

Nobody convinced me that my effort to make the birds happy made them even more sad. Had I known, I would have treated them humanely by just setting them free. As Ralph Waldo Emerson whose respect for nature and God were strong when he wrote years ago, I couldn’t resist saying, “forgive our harms, and condescend.” (Photo Credits: Edmondcv210;____; neon2rosell; CharlesLam; floridapfd; GurpalKaher; Nils) =0