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HomeFeaturesWildlife Month: Critters big and small

Wildlife Month: Critters big and small

Second of two parts

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BACOLOD CITY – Fireflies are among the tiniest living things in the planet, but just like any other creature that crawls, files, or creeps, they play a very vital role in keeping balance in the ecosystem.

The American Museum of Natural History, for instance, cites how firefly larvae (“voracious predators”) feed on snails, slugs, and earthworm, all of which pose harm to vital crops. Thus, fireflies create a sort of biocontrol over the ecosystems.

But while nature is trying its best to balance and right itself, humans and human activity have wrought a seemingly irreversible impact to the destruction of the natural environment.

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In Negros Occidental, for instance, a combination of factors has led to the denudation of the forests (see previous article on Wildlife Month).

This in turn has driven away different animal species from their natural habitats.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) kept tabs on faunal species whose existence is in danger through the following criteria: vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered.

Among the animals from Negros Island that made it are Visayan warty pig, Negros bleeding-heart, the Negros Fruit Dove, and the Negros shrew.

The Negros Bleeding Heart Pigeon, classified as critically Endangered, is among the species in the Negros Forest Park. | Photo by Darlwin Sales
The Negros Bleeding Heart Pigeon, classified as critically Endangered, is among the species in the Negros Forest Park. | Photo by Darlwin Sales

The Negros Forest Park has classified both the Negros Bleeding Heart, and the Visayan Warty Pig as “critically endangered”. The Park also classified the Philippine spotted dear as “threatened”.

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The Park, formerly known as the Negros Forests Ecological Foundation, Inc., so far has housed animal species endemic to the island. It is also one of the many institutions here that seek to raise awareness about the state of the flora and fauna in the island.

THE CLIMATE CHANGE DEBATE

Is the earth growing warmer and warmer? Is climate change real or, as Conservative media says, part of a hoax, an agenda of the left?

A growing number of studies show evidence proving climate change to be true.

NASA’s Global Climate Change, for instance, notes: “The industrial activities that our modern civilization depends upon have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 400 parts per million in the last 150 years” and that there is a “better than 95 percent probability” that, for the last 50 years, humans have produced greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide responsible for the spike in temperatures now.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources  Warty has classified the Visayan Warty Pig, or baboy Talunon, as critically endangered. | Photo by Darlwin Sales
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Warty has classified the Visayan Warty Pig, or baboy Talunon, as critically endangered. | Photo by Darlwin Sales

But the more important impact of climate change, according to a study compiled by the Climate Change Commission, is towards food security and sustainability.

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Climate change, according to the study, puts crop productivity at risk, since changes in temperature as well as “significant differences in the total annual rainfall” could “significantly influence agricultural planning and production and overall productivity of farming systems”.

One of the species featured in the Negros Forest Park is Philippine Sailfin Lizard also known as "Ibid". | Photo by Darlwin Sales
One of the species featured in the Negros Forest Park is Philippine Sailfin Lizard also known as “Ibid”. | Photo by Darlwin Sales

Rice production, according to the study, has already been affected, with effects such as “higher incidence of pests and diseases, low crop productivity/yield, stunted growth, delays in fruiting and harvesting, declining quality of produce, increased labor costs, and low farm income”.

TOUR OF THE FIREFLIES

As the debate on global warming heats up (pun intended), there is now an apparently mad scramble to save the earth, or at least to bring down carbon emissions.

This is what Himamaylan Councilor Marie Antoinette Limsiaco had in mind when she proposed Tour of the Fireflies, a 78-kilometer, a bicycle race that would start at zero mark in Bacolod and end in Himamaylan. The event will kick off early morning of 24 November this year.

The Philippine Spotted Deer also known as "usa", has been classified by the Negros Forest Park as "threatened".| Photo by Darlwin Sales
The Philippine Spotted Deer also known as “usa”, has been classified by the Negros Forest Park as “threatened”.| Photo by Darlwin Sales

Limsiaco reveals that Mayor Raymund Tongson, Jr. immediately said yes to her proposal.

“This is just one of the events in store for Wildlife month,” Limsiaco tells DNX.

Why fireflies?

“We seldom see fireflies at night now,” she says, blaming pollution on the insects’ diminishing numbers. The Tour of the Fireflies has already drawn 4,000 bikers ready to pedal for nature. The bikes, more than being symbolic, are also eco-friendly.

This will, Limsiaco hopes, raise awareness for the need to even out temperatures, and keep these at tolerable levels as a spike by just one degree could have global catastrophic effects.

The event, in effect, is more than a stunt to save the environment; it leaves behind no dirty air, nor trash.

And cleaner air is always welcome, not just for us but for all species.

Yes, including those tiny fireflies.

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Hannah A. Papasin
Hannah A. Papasinhttp://facebook.com/hannah.mariveles
Writer. Critic. Professor. She started writing since primary school and now has two published textbooks on communication. A film buff, she's a Communication, Media Literacy and Journalism Professor of the University of St. La Salle-Bacolod, and has a Master's Degree in English.

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