In Search of the Negros Bleeding Heart Pigeon

Visayan Bleeding Heart Pigeon Nigel Simpson, Curator of Birds at the UK's Bristol Zoo, was in Negros this week to discuss ongoing projects with local partner-environmental organizations including the Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation (NFEFI) and the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation (PBCFI).

The main focus of his visit was the Negros Bleeding Heart Pigeon, one of the most critically-endangered birds in the Philippines and number one in Bristol Zoo's top 10 'at risk' species.

ABS-CBN's Marty Go, Bristol Zoo's Nigel Simpson, NFEFI's Curator Dr. Joanne Justo, NFEFI Trustee Robert Harland

The zoo, in association with NFEFI and PBCFI, has mounted a series of biodiversity surveys in Negros Occidental and Oriental to ascertain if the bird is still present.

"Even though there are only occasional sightings of this rare bird, we are optimistic there are still breeding pairs in the wild. BirdLife International estimates there are only 300 Bleeding Heart Pigeons left in Negros, so their future here is uncertain," said Mr. Simpson.

"The problem is the drastic loss of lowland forest areas where the birds thrive, hence the low numbers. But with the establishment of more conservation areas we are confident their population can increase."

NFEFI's Biodiversity Conservation Center in Bacolod City has successfully hatched eight of these rare birds and they can be seen at the NFEFI compound by the Provincial Lagoon.

Said NFEFI's Curator, Dr. Joanne Justo "These captive-bred pigeons could be released into the wild once protected areas have been established.

Bristol Zoo, which last year celebrated its 175th anniversary, is working with organizations like NFEFI and PBCFI to develop local conservation areas in various parts of the province where rare birds and other endangered animals can be released.