7 Reasons Why Danjugan Island is a Model of Nature Conservation

Off the coast of Cauyan in Negros Occidental, situates a 45-hectare islet teeming with a rich set of biodiversity. Danjugan Island as it is called, is home to a diverse range of wildlife species most especially; the rare Philippine scrubfowl. One would say, “We’ve heard this story before” – of an island in our country swarming with nature gems only to see it destroyed by misguided development. The case with Danjugan is entirely different. Thanks to a conservation program, this 1.5 kilometer long island that was once threatened by illegal fishing, is now a protected marine sanctuary and has become a model for nature conservation.

Danjugan Island in Negros

To learn more about Danjugan and how it can become a model of nature safeguarding, here are some facts other LGU units managing similar islands in our country can try to emulate.

Danjugan Island is a protected marine reserve sanctuary

Marky Ramone Go

The first step to preserving an island is to declare it as a marine reserve sanctuary. Thanks to the national and provincial government of Negros Occidental, by declaring this island as a protected marine site, it gave a huge boost to the continued conservation of the island’s diverse set of biodiversity – all thriving inland and the surrounding waters of Danjugan.

It is a project of the Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc.

Another great thing about Danjugan Island is it is managed by a non-government and non-profit organization. Therefore it eradicates senseless business decisions and politicking when it comes to overseeing the conservation operations in the island. In 1994, through a worldwide fundraising, the Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PRRCFI), bought the island with a vision to preserve its amazing wildlife state and provide a lasting habitat to the many species that exist in and around Danjugan Island.

To date, PRRCFI “have provided technical support to the local government unit of Cauayan in establishing the surrounding waters in Danjugan Island as special marine protected areas where fishing activities are regulated.”

When you visit the island, Dave Albao, the Executive Director of PRRCFI, will immediately brief you with all necessary information about the organization’s conservation efforts in the island.

The island holds a “Marine and Wildlife Camps Program”

Even before the PRRCFI took over management of the island, Danjugan have been playing host to a Marine and Wildlife Camp since 1991. According to the organizer of this camp Mr. Gerry Ledesma – who is also the head of PRRCFI, the camp envisions youth to experience nature by exposing them to the interesting concepts of terrestrial and marine biology as well as environmental sciences. The camp is organized numerous times every year and is held exclusively for private schools and organizations. The Marine and Wildlife Camps is composed of a lecture series with guest speakers and various activities centering on nature conservation.

It enforces a strict 50-person carrying capacity per day

Koryn Iledan

It is comforting to learn that the over tourism that happened to popular islands in the country, will never happen to Danjugan. This is because, the island enforces a strict 50-people carrying capacity per day. Reservations are done online with prospective visitors being made aware ahead of time of the environmental-friendly practices in the island. Upon arriving at the island, each visitor must attend a briefing to know the do’s and don’ts in the island. A local guide is assigned to each group of tourists ensuring no one wanders off the established trails in order to preserve the natural habitat of the wildlife species. “This is their home, we are just guests in their home, so we must respect their island” – Dave Albao told us during our island briefing.

Every structures on the island are environmentally-friendly

Danjugan Island with Celine Murillo

“Danjugan Island is NOT a resort“, the people taking care of the island would like to let the visitors know about this fact. “We are an ecotourism destination aimed towards conservation, environmental education, sustainable livelihood, science and research. We welcome all visitors to experience nature and immerse themselves in the sanctuary we have preserved for future generations” is their underlying message.

Danjugan Island with Celine Murillo

Because Danjugan is not a resort but first and foremost, an island habitat of many wildlife species, there is no running water and electricity on the island and all man-made facilities are powered by solar energy and made of rustic materials that blends well with the surrounding environment. The island ensures that both the caretakers and visitors exert less carbon footprint as possible.

They offer a day long nature immersion tour

One’s trip to Danjugan Island is different from any islands in the country. Because here, guests are guided by highly trained and knowledgeable guides who will take visitors through established paths, passing through the five lagoons, hilltop trails, bat caves and other beaches before proceeding to the snorkeling areas. Throughout the day tour, you will be educated more about the many flora and fauna found in the island. Participating on this day-long nature immersion tour is a great way to learn more about the importance of preserving Danjugan Island.

The island possesses an incredible biodiversity

Danjugan Island

Latest tally from scientists who conducted a wildlife census on the island indicate an astounding numbers of species. To date there are a total recorded of 10 bat species, 572 fish species, 72 bird species, 22 butterfly species and 244 coral species all flourishing inland and in the surrounding waters of Danjugan Island. This make the island as one of the most vital biodiversity location in the country.

This article first appeared on WindowSeat.PH