A team from the UPLB Museum of Natural History (MNH) headed by curators Prof. Phillip A. Alviola and Dr. Aimee Lynn B. Dupo trained the staff of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of Mt. Guiting-Guiting Natural Park (MGNPP) in Sibuyan Island, Romblon on March 2-3, 2015.

Prof. Alviola and Dr. Dupo with the help of MNH researchers James DV. Alvarez and Jeremy Carlo B. Naredo introduced the park staff to the various groups of wildlife and arthropods with highlight on the species found in Sibuyan.

The staff were also trained how to document and collect biological specimens -- important techniques for their Biodiversity Monitoring System (BMS) and research activities. Aside from undergoing a short skill improvement program, the staff were rigidly reviewed on RA 9147 or the Wildlife Act which governs the proper way of collecting specimens.

During the field practicum, the training team and participants set up mist nets to capture birds and bats and used different kinds of traps for catching rats and shrews. Participants were also introduced to insect collection techniques like sweep netting, light trapping and pitfall trapping.

This training was made possible through the initiative of Isaac Pearlman, Peace Corps volunteer at the MGGNP. According to Pearlman, they invited Dr. Dupo and Prof. Alviola to “train the Sibuyan Island DENR staff and key members of the community in wildlife monitoring and assessment as part of the USAID/Peace Corps grant Developing Technical Capacity for Biodiversity Management in Mount Guiting-Guiting Natural Park.”

Malvin Rocero, Protected Area Superintended of the park was very grateful that the training for the park personnel pushed through.

“The training will let us further improve the skills of our staff in conducting the BMS in the protected area especially that they have to be periodically refreshed on the fauna of MGGNP,” Rocero said. He also expressed enthusiasm in collaborating with the UPLB MNH.

Forester Rebecca Delgado of the local DENR learned a lot from the training. “We learned how to prioritize species for monitoring and their proper identification,” she said.

“We learned a lot about insects; we thought that they are not important but we learned that they have a role in maintaining the environment,” she added. She also acknowledged the important participation of local government units in managing and conserving the MGGNP.

Participants of the training included Dr. Arthur Tansiongco, currently Protected Area Management Board co-chairman and a founder of the MGGNP, barangay captains Jayner Jonathan Porras and Cleto Ramilo of Sugod and Marigondon, respectively; and some members of the trail guide association.

Sibuyan Island, where the MGGNP is located, is dubbed as the “Galapagos of Asia”.

But despite the pristine condition of the island, Pearlman still emphasized that “there is a strong need to protect the forest and wildlife [of Sibuyan] against threats such as illegal logging and forest destruction, and illegal wildlife hunting.”

Alviola said that a strengthened DENR and UPLB MNH collaboration will be a great step towards determining the current floral and faunal status of Sibuyan.

“The fauna of Sibuyan is remarkable yet is among the least known in the country. Comprehensive surveys will definitely increase these numbers, even fourfold,” Prof. Alviola said.

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