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Book highlights urgency for wildlife conservation

MANILA, May 22 — The environment department's Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) launched Thursday (May 22) in Metro Manila the coffee table book 'Treasures of the Philippine Wild' featuring several of the country's wildlife species threatened with extinction.

BMB timed the launch to coincide with the 2014 celebration of International Day for Biological Diversity (IDBD).

"Publication of the book aims to help raise public awareness about and action on protecting our wildlife," BMB Dir. Theresa Mundita Lim said on the side of the launch at Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC) in Quezon City.

She raised urgency for wildlife conservation, noting thePhilippines is rich in biodiversity but is also among the world's flora and fauna hotspots.

Habitat destruction, invasive alien species, over-exploitation and poaching, pollution and susceptibility to climate change's impacts arethreatening the country's biodiversity, she continued.

Lim said the tamaraw (scientific name 'Bubalus mindorensis'), Philippine eagle (scientific name 'Pithecophaga jefferyll') and marine turtles are among wildlife species BMB chose for the coffee table book.

"Such species are iconic," she said, citing popularity and appeal of the chosen wildlife.

She said BMB printed 100 copies of the book's first edition.

BMB can print additional copies if there's demand for the book, she continued.

During the launch, BMB distributed copies of the book to its conservation partners and schools participating in the agency's May 22-23 biodiversity-oriented summer youth camp at NAPWC.

The agency earlier identified the schools as San Francisco High School, Rondon High School, Commonwealth High School, Judge Feliciano Belmonte Sr. High School, Quirino High School, Jose P. Laurel High School, Maligaya High School, Ramon Magsaysay (Cubao) High School, Don A. Roces Sr. Science and Technology High School, North Fairview High School, Culiat High School and New Era High School.

Recipients of the book also included self-confessed nature lover Dr. Luz Almeda, Department of Education's Regional Director for National Capital Region.

She thanked BMB for the publishing the book and conducting the summer camp, believing such initiatives will help the academe better acquire knowledge about the country's biodiversity.

"Truly, I'm appreciative of BMB's initiatives to engage teachers and others in activities for conserving and protecting the environment," she said at the event.

In December 2000, UN General Assembly adapted May 22 as IDBD to increase public understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.

The 2014 IDBD theme is 'Island biodiversity,' coinciding with UN General Assembly's designation of 2014 as International Year of Small Island Developing State.

Earlier, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classified the tamaraw and Philippine eagle as already critically endangered.

A specie is classified as critically endangered when the best available evidence indicates it is facing an "extremely high" risk of extinction in the wild, IUCN noted.

Among such evidence are severe population decline, very small population, very small geographic area occupied and calculations showing over 50 percent probability of extinction during the next 10 years. (PNA)

FPV/CJT/UTB

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