Following the working visit of the Czech Parliament’s Committee of Environment to the Philippines early this month, Committee Chairman Robin Böhnisch confirmed further Czech support for the protection and preservation of endemic species in the country.
During the Committee’s meeting with Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje on March 17, Böhnisch especially noted that„as the Philippines is an important global hotspot for biodiversity, we are committed to supporting endangered species conservation here.“
The Czech delegation composed of Chairman Böhnisch and three members of the environment committee travelled to Negros Occidental, met with the local authorities and visited environment-related facilities. They were also able to visit the Talarak Rescue and Conservation Breeding Center in Kabancalan City, one of the beneficiaries of the Czech development project grants given by the Czech Embassy in Manila.
The Talarak Rescue and Conservation Breeding Center was established in 2008 with the participation of Czech zoologist Pavel Hospodářský. The center has been successful in breeding many endangered species of Philippine birds and animals in general, becoming famous for breeding the critically endangered Walden’s Hornbill (locally know as Talarak) as one of only 3 places in the world. The center also breeds the critically endangered Visayan Warty Pig as well as the Negros Bleeding Heart Pigeon and the Philippine Spotted Deer. Talarak Foundation is dully accredited as a DENR Rescue Center for confiscated endagered animals and as a Conservation Breeding Center for Philippine endemics. Just last year, Talarak Foundation President Fernando Gutierrez signed a new contract with Czech Ambassador Jaroslav Olša, jr., assuring the foundation substantial financial support for the protection of endangered bird species in the country.
The Talarak Foundation is just one of the environmental projects that the Czech Republic has been supporting in the Philippines. Another similar Czech-operated and funded endeavor is the Tarsius Project in Bohol which consists of Czech experts who have been actively working for conservation and research of the Philippine Tarsier since 2009.
The recent visit of the Committee for Environment of the Czech Parliament is in line with the Czech endeavor to further deepen the already established Czech-Philippines environmental activities.