DAVAO CITY – In the olden days, Bagobos living in Davao’s watersheds look to the limokun, the white-eared brown Philippine dove, for omens. In indigenous folklore, the limokun is believed to be a spirit messenger, a harbinger of doom or fortune. For Filipino ornithologists, however, the limokun occupies a more mundane status, albeit a very important one, since the dove is a Philippine endemic, which means that it can be found only here in Philippine watersheds.
However, like most endemic species, the limokun’s survival is at stake since its habitat, which is found in lowland dipterocarp forests along the watershed, is fast vanishing due to various threats. In 2012, watershed advocacy group Interface Development Interventions, Inc. (IDIS) commissioned wildlife biologists from the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) to conduct a biodiversity assessment on two of Davao’s important watersheds, the Talomo-Lipadas (TL) and Panigan-Tamugan (PT) watersheds, which are the current and future sources of the city’s drinking water.
“The watersheds, essentially, are a center for endemism.”, said PEF Conservation Director Jayson Ibanez who said that his team was able to document 171 vertebrate species, mostly endemic, which are living in the dipterocarp forests found in the lowland areas. 28 of these species are categorized as threatened and near threatened, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
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