The Cagayan Valley and Northern Philippine Islands region given its lush natural resources and diverse ecosystem is home to many rare animals. Some of these creatures are birds, specifically, the raptors. Most of these birds of prey are migratory in nature. Raptors, especially the Grey-faced Buzzards are breeding in the northern region of the globe; Russia, China, Mongolia, Japan and Taiwan.
In winter time, they set back to the tropical islands to hunt and roost. In the region, particularly in the municipalities of Sta. Ana, Pamplona and Sanchez Mira are migratory flyways by the Grey-faced Buzzards because food sources are plentiful in the area.
In the last decade, the number of these raptors were rapidly declining because of massive hunting and taken as native delicacy. In order to prevent and eradicate this practice, widespread dissemination of awareness on the adverse effect to these creatures were initiated. There are few groups that making big steps for this undertaking and in span of almost one year of Sagip Sawi (Grey-faced Buzzard) Campaign 90% the hunting practice was decreased. This action was recognized by the international protection and preservation organizations of raptors because only the Philippines set a high record in this campaign. The town of Sanchez Mira headed by an educator-mayor AselaSacramed for example, was able to significantly reduce local hunting to almost negligible levelsin less than two years.
The Raptorwatch Network Philippines headed by Atty. Alex Tiongco together with the Department of Tourism headed by Regional Directors Virgilio M. Maguigad of Region 2 and Martin S. Valera of Region 1 are now establishing activities for the protection, preservation, and awareness dissemination on raptors specifically the Grey-faced Buzzards.
The project aims to educate the community on how to protect and preserve the Grey-faced Buzzard and the relevance to their livelihood as farmers. The protection of their habitat is very relevant to their survival as prime way for their preservation.
The Raptorwatch Network Philippines and the Department of Tourism Region I and II conducted familiarization visits to the Municipalities of Sta. Ana, Pamplona and Sanchez Mira in Cagayan Province and Adams, Bangui and Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte that lasted for five days from February 5 to 10.
The visits were courtesy calls and meeting with the LCEs of the said towns on the implementation and continuity of the Sagip Sawi Campaign,discuss ecotourism projects and activities, dialogue with the local hunters of raptors on their traditional practices of hunting, uses and purposes of the raptors to their customs and traditions,and meetings with cooperatives supporting and promoting ecotourism, checking accommodations run by the locals and ecotourism activities. The visits are the simulations of the incoming tour of the Japanese Local Government Officials and Bird Enthusiasts and other interested foreign visitors on March and April 2018, peak periods for the northward migration of the birds back to the Northeast Asia.
Also, senior tourism officers Thomas Santos of DOT Region 2 and Rey Gesmundo of DOT Region 1 will be attending a raptor watch festival in Tanjung Tuan Forest Reserve Melaka, Malaysia together with Raptorwatch Network Philippines in mid-March 2018 as benchmarking for the Philippines.