Pandanan and Bugsuk

Aerial view of Pandanan's coastal forest

The main island of Palawan at its southern tip gives way to the island group of Balabac. Two of its larger ones, Pandanan and Bugsuk have been well protected by their owners and now retain one of the largest continuous coastal forest areas in the Philippines. Consequently, the area is of outstanding importance for conservation of species which are reliant on extreme lowland forest areas.

Roost site near Pandanan island

Since 2005, Katala Foundation, Inc. (KFI) implements a nest protection scheme for the critically endangered Philippine Cockatoo on Pandanan. Due to intensive patrolling and meticulous monitoring of each discovered cockatoo nest, the population increased from ca. 40 birds at the beginning of the project to 297 individuals by end of the 2018 breeding season.

Since 2011 the project was expanded also to the neighboring Bugsuk Island; and birds from the two islands form a single population, with non-breeding individuals often being observed flying from one island to the other.

A cockatoo roost site is monitored daily on one of the smaller islands in the archipelago. These counts, in addition to the monitoring of the nest trees during the breeding season, are the basis for the population estimates of this species in this project site.

Measuring cockatoo hatchlings

KFI is working with local governments and communities, as well as with the Jewelmer corporation to protect the wildlife in the unique forest on these islands. Local wildlife wardens which patrol the area regularly report their observations to local authorities in monthly reports, particularly regarding establishment of shifting cultivation plots or illegal logging.

Cockatoo flock at sunset

Whenever the opportunity arises, rapid assessments of other animal groups are conducted. Currently, 101 bird species are recorded from these islands, but more records will undoubtedly be made in the future. A very special observation was that of a Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha, a migrating songbird originating in Northeast Asia. This species usually is wintering in northern Borneo. It was the first, and so far only record of this unusual bird in the Philippines. Unfortunately, due to security concerns, travel to this project site is currently restricted for visitors and non-local staff of KFI.