Above: Negros bleeding-heart dove: Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Photo: Bristol Zoological Society


FOLLOWING A RARE sighting of a Critically Endangered bird, conservationists have started a dedicated research programme in the Philippines to continue monitoring and studying the species.

Bristol Zoological Society (BZS) has been running the Philippines conservation project in the south of Negros since 2000. In May, a team of researchers – co-led by Dr Daphne Kerhoas, a lecturer in conservation science at BZS – travelled to Panay Island in search of the Negros bleeding-heart dove (Gallicolumba keayi). It is feared that there are now fewer than 300 pairs of this species left in the wild.

Dr Kerhoas said: “Not only are there very few of these birds left in existence, but they are also very shy, meaning they are rarely seen.”

The researchers used nine camera traps – which can see in infra-red and are activated by motion – to obtain footage of the inconspicuous Negros bleeding-heart in the North West Panay Peninsula National Park. Walking 27 transects of 500m (approx 13,500m worth of transects in total), the team also recorded 47 species of bird by sight or sound.

BZS has since started a research programme within the Sibaliw Research Station in the National Park, so it can continue to monitor and study Negros bleeding-heart, as well as other endemic species, such as Critically Endangered Visayan warty pigs (Sus cebifrons) and rufous-headed hornbills (Rhabdotorrhinus waldeni), in addition to Endangered Visayan tarictic hornbills (Penelopides panini) and Philippine spotted deer (Rusa alfredi), in Panay and Negros.

Nigel Simpson, head of operations at BZS and co-lead on the project, added: “Our future plans include growing the captive breeding population of Negros bleeding-heart doves with our NGO partners TALARAK and CenTrop.

“The population currently stands at about 50 birds across three centres in the Philippines, all of which have been bred from just three birds that were confiscated from poachers. We intend to set up a reintroduction project in known and extant habitat.”

For more information on BZS’s work in the Philippines, visit: www.bristolzoo.org.uk/save-wildlife/conservation-and-research/negros-bleeding-heart-dove-project 

● Watch the video of the wild Negros bleeding-heart dove at: https://youtu.be/lSHORn4v3Rg

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