Surveys conducted from 2013 to 2014 by the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PBCFI) and biology students from Mindanao State University - Iligan Institute of Technology and University of St. La Salle - Bacolod have verified and evaluated the conservation status of hornbills in Negros Island. Under the DENR-BMB and GEF-UNDP’s Biodiversity Partnership Project (BPP) and with support from the Chester Zoo, the assessment was able to validate the presence of population of Rufous-headed hornbill (Rhabdotorrhinus waldeni) in Northern Negros Natural Park (NNNP) and in Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park in Negros Oriental. NNNP is one of BPP’s eight demonstration sites in the Philippines.
A total of five individuals (two males and three females) of Rufous-headed hornbill, thought to be extinct in Negros Island, were seen in Mt. Silay mountain range in NNNP. Reports of the presence of the bird (one male and two females) in Balinsasayaw Twin Lakes were noted from visiting birdwatchers but visits to the forests did not yield observations of the species. Out of the 12 remaining forest areas surveyed, only NNNP has had confirmed reports of the species’ presence. The Visayan Tarictic hornbill (Penelopides panini), on the other hand, was recorded to be present in all 12 forests patches visited. The species appeared to be persistent and to some extent tolerant to badly degraded forests as long as there were tall trees.
Following the discovery of Rufous-headed hornbill, PBCFI in collaboration with DENR, local government units and Bantay Bukid Brigade (community forest guards) established hornbill-monitoring trails in NNNP and Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park. A similar monitoring mechanism will also be established in Balinsasayao Twin Lakes by 2016. This initiative was made possible with the support of BPP and other collaborating partners namely, Chester Zoo, Virginia Zoo and the Zoological Society for the Conservation of Species and Populations (ZGAP). #