Palawan recruits students in war to save Philippine cockatoo
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan — A foundation protecting the Philippine Cockatoo staged here Friday the first-ever Katala Festival for students in a bid to make them partners in protecting the critically endangered bird.
Held at the gymnasium of the Palawan State University (PSU) on Friday, more or less 750 students in elementary and junior high attended the whole day event organized by the Katala Foundation, Inc. (KFI) in collaboration with the university.
KFI chief operations officer, Indira Widmann, said they organized the bird festival, were confident t students could become their partners in taking care of the Philippine Cockatoo, which is increasingly seen in the city.
“With this festival, we hope there will be many more people reporting cockatoo sightings within the city so that we will encourage kids not to persecute, not to cause the visiting cockatoos any harm,” Widmann said.
She said next to Rasa Island, Narra, Pandanan Island, and Balabac in southern Palawan, Puerto Princesa is the third most important area, where about 100 Philippine Cockatoos had been sighted in the past few months.
She said the city has become a global stronghold for the critically endangered bird. Recent estimates suggest 1,000 cockatoos are left in the wild.
Department of Education (DepEd) Undersecretary Alain del Pascua, an avid bird photographer, considers the event “a breath of fresh air”.
In a message sent to DepEd-Palawan, he said the population of birds in the wild indicates the status of the environment.
“When we see bird numbers drop or they simply fly away – we become aware of environmental issues – water or air pollution, habitat destruction, pesticide effects, endangered species, bird hunting practices and regulation, illegal wildlife trade, predator populations,” del Pascua said.
Students in the day-long festival vied for contests, such as extemporaneous speaking, poster-making, environmental chanting, and many more. They also immersed themselves in various activities, like coloring, face painting, bird watching, and storytelling.
The festival also saw the launch of KFI’s new mascot, “Lusi”, the Palawan hornbill. “Lusi” will start to join “Katali”, the Philippine cockatoo, and “Bakoko”, the Philippine forest turtle, in entertaining kids during KFI’s information drive in the province.