Saving an endangered endemic bird: the case of the black shama (copysychus cebuensis)
The Black Shama is a small bird endemic to Cebu, which can only
be found on this island. Once, it was believed to be extinct; but patient and
careful monitoring by Ms. Perla Magsalay revealed that some very small
populations exist in several towns. This discovery was significant in the
The male Black Shama is entirely black, with a blue gloss at the
back and a wattle around the eye. The female has a duller color. Immature birds
are brown and spotted. It has a long tail. The bill and feet are black. This
bird, known for its melodious calls, breeds between February and September.
With the forest cover of Cebu now reduced to almost nil, the
remaining scarce and scattered populations survive in the undergrowth of the
patches of secondary forest growth tracts, in bamboo groves and thickets. These
populations are highly endangered due to habitat loss caused by deforestation
and by real estate development projects.
Saving the Black Shama
Saving the Black Shama includes the following activities:
· Research. The
Black Shama Project is a pilot project of the Philippine Wetlands and Wildlife
Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PWWCFI) on endemic terrestrial birds. The project
site is Casili -- part of which belongs to Mandaue City and the other part
belongs to Consolacion, Cebu -- which is one of the known habitats of this bird.
This consists of private lands. A real estate development project had acquired a
substantial portion of these lands. The further enlargement of developed areas
led to a corresponding constriction of the Black Shama habitat. Monitoring
activities which were conducted daily revealed the necessity for translocation.
Possible translocation sites in the province were identified and assessed. The
two most probable sites are Buhisan and the Central Cebu National Park.
· Information Activties.
Information was disseminated through special lectures, fore and symposia and
broadcast and print media. The media exposure led to a dialogue among concerned
sectors and a recommendation that the DENR would require the realty corporation
to submit an Environmental Impact Assessment, especially in areas affecting
their habitat. This was not followed. PWWCFI is making posters and brochures to
generate greater awareness and concerns for the Black Shama.
· Lobbying for Legislation. The
information dissemination campaigns and networking activities were not able to
whip up sufficient mess support. But they were able to influence the
municipality of Consolacion, Cebu, to pass an ordinance banning the killing and
hunting of the Black Shama Congresswoman Nerissa Soon has also recently filed a
bill seeking protection for this bird throughout Cebu.
· Ecotourism. Several
ornithologists and bird enthusiasts in the country and abroad have visited Cebu
just to see the Black Shama. Guide services and other forms of assistance were
provided by PWWCFI personnel.
· Networking. PWWCFI developed
linkages with local organizations and concerned individuals. Efforts along this
line led to the formation of the Black Shama Foundation. Likewise, the PWWCFI
linkages include international organizations like the New York Zoological
Society, Wild Bird Society of Japan, International Council on Bird Preservation,
International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources and
other ornithological organizations and institutions.
Dickenson, E.,R. Kennedy and K. Parks. The Birds of
the Philippines. BOU Checklist No.2, British Ornithologists Union, Henry Ltd.,
Dorset Press, Dorchester, Great Britain. 1991.
DuPont, J.E. Philippine Birds. Monograph Series 2, Delaware
Museum of Natural History, Greenville, Delaware, U.S.A. 1971
Gonzales, P. and C. Rees. Birds of the Philippines. The Haribon
Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources, Inc., Kyodo Printing Co.,
Manila, Philippines. 1988.
Magsalay, P. The Ecology and Population Status of the Black
Shama Copsychus cebuensis, Steer, From Cebu Philippines. (An unpublished thesis
presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School, University of San Carlos, in
partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Science in
Ideas for Action:
A Technology Information Kit, November 23 - 28,