Let Us Preserve the Blue Headed Racquet Tail Parrot

Project Site: Coron/Busuanga Island, Philippines

Parrot International through its President, Dr. Mark L. Stafford, is launching a project in Southeast Asia to preserve the ‘Blue Headed Racquet Tail,’ Prioniturus platenae, local name ‘Kilit’, an IUCN listed vulnerable parrot. Kilit is endemic to the Philippines and only in the province of Palawan and not present in any other parts of the world. Kilit is abundant in the Calamianes region, a group of several islands in Northern Palawan. However, with the advent of a rapid increase in tourism and continuous deforestation resulting in habitat destruction, and the pet business, immediate action needs to be done to protect it or soon it will be a critically endangered parrot.

The overall objective of this project is to conserve the ‘Kilit’ by preserving its habitat. We will partner with local government of Coron, a municipality located in the Calamianes. Currently, Coron’s local government is deciding on a proposal to adopt Kilit as the municipal bird, which is likely to be approved. We will embark on an educational push to incorporate Kilit as part of the public school lessons in the islands and use this as an inroad to educate the entire population of the islands in preserving biodiversity. We will use Kilit as flagship bird to promote biodiversity conservation and make it a tourist attraction, educating the community that Kilit preservation and income goes hand in hand or is synergistic.

The first project will be a study of the life cycle of Kilit. University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), professor, Dr. Leticia Afuang will be lead scientist in this study together with a gifted graduate student, Nikki, who got thesis funding from the Department of Science and Technology, Philippines. Her thesis will include Kilit and Molecular Biology analysis. There is a molecular biology wet laboratory at UPLB. Furthermore, Katala Foundation, (Indira Widmann, program manager), with expertise in Katala (Philippine parrot), and has done some preliminary observations on the Kilit will assist in Kilit life cycle research and Kilit community education. They will apply Katala Foundation’s rich experience to this study. This study will cost $5000.

The ‘headquarters’ of the study will be in Kingfisher Park, Malbato, Coron, Palawan, the first privately owned biodiversity park in the Philippines which has a size of 3,000 ha and has an abundance of Kilit. Kingfisher Park has a mission of preserving biological diversity through ecotourism and has been investing to protect biological diversity through habitat preservation and education. Kingfisher Park has a vision of being the first privately owned Center of Biodiversity Research in the Philippines. Kingfisher Park has a volunteer consultant, Dr. Manuel Reyes, a Biological Engineering Professor at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, USA. He volunteered to establish this Biodiversity Research Center and will endeavor to seek partnerships world-wide to promote scholarly activity and conserve, preserve and rehabilitate terrestrial biodiversity in the Calamianes Islands. In addition, Al and Mae Linsangan, owners of Calamianes Expeditions & Ecotours, staunch local environmentalists, are partners in this project as well. Furthermore, partnerships will be sought with the Department of Environment & Natural Resources-CENRO-Coron, and the Palawan Council of Sustainable Development, Philippines.