Another nest of the endangered marine turtles was discovered at the Aboitiz Cleanery Park in Davao City, officials said, capping the company’s environmental sustainability program.
The nest discovered on December 20 last year was the third nest discovered inside the park.
The first and second pawikan nests containing soon-to-be-hatched eggs were discovered last November 26 and December 3, respectively.
The eggs in the third nest are expected to hatch on the second or third week of February 2021.
Locally called pawikan, almost all marine turtle species are in endangered owing to habitat loss and illegal wildlife trade.
Pawikans are hunted for their meat, shells, and other derivatives, while their eggs are harvested for domestic consumption. As a conservation measure, the DENR is promoting the establishment of marine turtle hatcheries, while working to build networks of marine turtle sanctuaries where they can reproduce and thrive.
In a news statement, Aboitiz Cleanergy Park managers said the discovery of the third nest reaffirms the park’s status as a sustainable environmental haven conducive to a variety of wildlife.
An 8-hectare ecological preserve located in Punta Dumalag, Davao City, and the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park is operated by AboitizPower utility and subsidiary Davao Light & Power Company and the Aboitiz Foundation.
Known as an urban-based biodiversity conservation site, it is home to the critically endangered hawksbill turtle, almost 100 endemic and migratory bird species, and marine species.
Since its launch in 2014, the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park has released 4,811 hatchlings from 40 discovered nests within the area, and at present five rescued pawikans are in the park’s repository. These include three hawksbill turtles, one green sea turtle and an olive ridley turtle.
“This is very commendable considering that hawksbill turtles are considered as critically endangered among the five marine turtle species in the Philippines. We commend the Aboitiz Foundation and the Davao Light and Power Company for their unending efforts in protecting the nesting sites of marine turtles as well as their conservation initiatives in order to increase the pawikan population in the area,” Bagani A. Evasco, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 11 executive director said in the same statement.
“Indeed, our forged partnership with the Aboitiz Foundation has come to fruition in protecting and conserving marine turtles in the middle of the city,” Evasco added.
The nest’s discovery was unforeseen as pawikan nests are not expected to be discovered this year. Nesting or laying of eggs happen every other year.
The park’s environmentally-sound and protected status, coupled with decreased activity in the area brought about by the city’s community quarantine, may have attracted nesting pawikans to lay eggs in the area, Evasco said.
“Pawikans are already endangered and initiating conservation efforts that will make them stay for the future generations is one of the things we value the most as we contribute to keep the balance of nature for a more sustainable environment. Davao Light, in partnership with Aboitiz Foundation, DENR, and the local government unit of Davao City will continue our conservation efforts to build a better world for the pawikans,” said Rodger S. Velasco, Davao Light president and chief operating officer said for his part.
During the ongoing community quarantine brought about by the current pandemic, Davao Light and the Aboitiz Foundation continued their rehabilitation of the park’s facilities that were destroyed by waves from last year’s “habagat.”
New repositories were also built to provide rescued pawikans with a better place to recuperate from their injuries while waiting for the best time for their release back to the sea.
Davao Light, the Aboitiz Foundation, DENR and the Davao City LGU previously entered into an agreement for pawikan conservation efforts and identified the Aboitiz Cleanergy Park as Pawikan Rescue Center, in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Life Below Water). This aims to address the dangers of poaching and the impacts of other human activities on the pawikan species.
Any rescued pawikans are turned over by DENR to the park for proper care and assessment prior to releasing them back to the wild.