Baras Bird Sanctuary Revisited
By Apolinario Villalobos
The last time I visited the Baras Bird Sanctuary was during the successful celebration of the Bird Festival 2017 last May. Lately, I visited it again but it was some kind of a reunion with college buddies, Rey Malana, the owner of the avian reservation park and Charles del Campo who was with his second wife, Neneng. When we arrived, the park wardens were busy with the laying down of new tiles for the pathway that wound around the bamboo and “kakawate” grove. Mr. Malana, himself, showed as around while pointing to interesting birds, some of which belong to very rare species. While going around, we had to cover our head with salakot to protect us from bird droppings.
Overhead, branches of trees and leaning bamboos lush with foliage and twigs were dotted with nests. Birds of various species were oblivious of our presence. Egrets were either on the ground while the rest were minding their nest. Fallen bamboos were left to rot to maintain an ambience akin to a forest. Meanwhile, a few feet away from the pathway, the brownish Upper Katungal or Kapingkong River continued rushing toward the Ala River.
After our tour, Rey treated us to a film showing that featured a documentary about the sanctuary. I was personally amazed at how the city and Baras with its Bird sanctuary were beautifully presented, especially, from the bird’s eye view.
Rey confided that he has been a nature lover ever since he observed the regular homing of egrets to the bamboo grove of their farm. To keep the avian park well-maintained, the city government has granted it a subsidy. Working in tandem with Rey in keeping the birding hobby and nature awareness in Tacurong alive is Ms. Emelie P. Jamorabon of the city tourism office. She surprised me with her thorough knowledge of the birds that have found home in the swamps around the city, as well as, the Bird Sanctuary itself. When I paid her a visit, she excitedly opened a site in the internet about the birds of Tacurong posted by avid birdwatchers who regularly visit the city.
Both Mr. Malana and Ms. Jamorabon are hoping that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) could further help the city government in preserving the identified homing areas of endemic and migratory birds, especially, the almost three hectares Baras Bird Sanctuary. Another identified area is a swamp within a private land in Carmen, which according to Ms. Jamorabon will be developed into a subdivision.
Those who are interested to visit Tacurong, the gateways are Davao, General Santos and Cotabato cities. The staff of the City Tourism Office on the second floor of the City Hall, and the receptionists, as well as, the park wardens of the Baras Bird Sanctuary are more than willing to assist for quick tours.