Glan: The Raptor Hub of Mindanao
Bernard Supetran | Jan 03, 2019
Glan, the so-called "Tour Town" of Sarangani, is widely-known for the powdery white sand beach of Gumasa which is often monikered as Mindanao's counterpart to Boracay. It is also the "heritage town" of the Soccsksargen region for its American-era ancestral homes which have withstood the ravages of time.
But in addition to these, this quaint municipality has a new tag--that of being a hub for migratory raptors. During the third quarter of the year, birds from neighboring countries such as Taiwan and Japan fly long distances and cross oceans to find the suitable environment and feeding areas. As they head to Indonesia, they pass by southern Mindanao to rest and feed before proceeding with their flight.
In recent years, the migratory birds have been observed to make a stopover in Rio del Pilar in the municipality of Glan in Sarangani. Last year, the Provincial Government of Sarangani through the Environmental Conservation and Protection Center counted a total of 132,945 birds composed of Chinese Sparrowhawk (96%), Grey-faced Buzzard (3%), Peregrine Falcon and Western Osprey (1%).
This year is the third year of monitoring and study in order to generate scientific data which can help authorities understand certain aspects of raptor biology, migration behaviors and to help identify critical sites for conservation.
The birds are looking for thermal air currents which can be found in Mt. Latian Complex, which has been identified an important biodiversity area, and a Philippine Biodiversity Conservation priority by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Raptor migration is a vital indicator of the ecological balance of the roosting area which would draw the interest of wildlife enthusiasts. They are characterized by their sharp vision, which allows them to detect prey during flight, thus serving as natural pest control in the area.
The migratory birds arrive in Sarangani twice a year—September to October, and March to April, their return flight.
A study titled “Project Southern Crossing 2014: First Observations of Autumn Raptor Migration at Sarangani, Mindanao, Philippines” described the archipelago as an “important link in the East Asia–Australasian Flyway (BirdLife International 2015), a migration route involving long sea crossings.”
This year’s monitoring season includes a reforestation initiative of one of the roosting sites, Mt. Taltak, in partnership with Raptorwatch Network Philippines and the Japanese Society for the Preservation of Birds.
This five-year regreening project is a part of the Migratory Raptors Study alongside with this year’s raptor monitoring was highlighted in the recent holding of the first Autumn Migration Raptor Watch Festival which was able to account for some 93,000 birds. The eco-tourism fest emphasized the importance of maintaining the environmental health of the area to keep the raptors from coming.
The event was participated in by the DENR, the Provincial Government of Sarangani, the Municipality of Glan, the Department of Tourism, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Indigenous Peoples Municipal Office, and the Philippine National Police, schools, barangay councils and communities in Glan.