Philippine Owls Conservation Programme
The development of the Philippine Owls Conservation Programme is supported by the World Owl Trust and UK Owl-TAG. It was initiated in 1996 for the conservation of owl species of varying conservation status, including a few critically endangered ones.
New Owls of the Philippines
The discovery of two bird species in a single paper is an extremely rare occurrence; hence the publication describing the Cebu and Camiguin Hawk-Owls (Ninox spilonota & N. leventisi) deserved to be widely publicized. In 2012, the New Owls of the Philippines, facilitated by PBCFI, was launched. Participants included representatives from at least 24 institutions across Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. A press conference was also held for the local, national and international media. The team contributing to the discoveries included members from PBCFI, BirdLife International, the Oriental Bird Club, Philippines and Birdtour Asia. Additional support was provided by National Geographic.
Field Research and Development of Protected Areas
In Camiguin Sur, information about the population distribution and habitat requirements of the newly described Camiguin Hawk-owl was obtained from new research initiatives, in collaboration with a biology student from Misamis State University – Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT). The discovery of this owl brought a significant amount of attention to the conservation importance of forests on the island. Initial surveys in forest patches with the potential of being included in the Mt. Timpoong-Hibok Hibok Natural Monument are slated to commence in 2013-2014.
On Cebu Island, the stepping up of ecological studies on the Cebu Hawk-owl leading to its elevation from a subspecies of the Philippine Hawk-owl (Ninox philippensis) into a full species. Distribution surveys, habitat assessments and radio-telemetry studies were conducted in few of the largest remnant forest patches on the island. These studies revealed that the species is almost certainly ‘Endangered’, requiring urgent conservation action. Discussions for creating forest corridors and expanding existing forest habitats are ongoing.
In the Sulu Islands, where the Sulu Hawk-owl (Ninox reyi) (Birdlife International ‘Vulnerable’) can be found, surveys will commence soon with the clearing political climate. Initial population surveys for the Mindanao Scops Owl (Otus mirus) were conducted in 2011 in Baluno, Pasonanca National Park, with biology students from Western Mindanao State University. These collaborations with academic institutions were also part of PBCFI’s efforts to build capacity among locals to conduct basic research.
NFEFI-BCC has been successful with breeding the Philippine Eagle-owl (Bubo philippensis) (IUCN ‘Vulnerable’), producing 13 owlets between 2005 and 2012. The centre also houses the Philippine Hawk-owl.