Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary

Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary (OIWS) is a low-lying island surrounded by extensive intertidal sandflats, mangroves, seagrass beds, coral reefs and islets and is one of six sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention in the Philippines. It is one of the most important areas in the country for significant numbers of migratory waterbirds, providing habitat for staging, wintering, roosting and feeding birds.

The Olango island group is about five kilometers east of Mactan Island, Cebu. The sanctuary, with over 900 hectares of coastal habitat, is on the southwestern portion of the Olango island. Australasian Flyway, which stretches from Alaska and Russia in the north to Australia and New Zealand in the south. The annual migration happens towards the winter months starting September when the birds would leave their breeding areas in the northern hemisphere. The northward migration happens towards the months of March to May. Around this time of the year, the shorebirds may be seen transitioning to their colorful breeding plumage as they prepare for their long migration to the breeding areas in the north.

Over 10,000 shorebirds have been recorded at one time in the sanctuary, with total numbers approaching 50,000. More than 40 species of migratory birds have been recorded in the site. The flagship species at the OIWS are the Asiatic Dowitcher (Limnodromus semipalmatus) and the Chinese Egret (Egretta eulophotes). There are birds in the wildlife sanctuary all year round. However, the peak of the migration season, from December to February, offers a good chance of seeing huge congregation of
migratory waders and shorebirds.

References:The Annotated Ramsar List: Philippines. 15/03/2013 (http://www.ramsar.org/cda/en/ramsar-pubs-notes-annotated-ramsar-
Arribas, Nilo Jr. 2011. A Short Guide to Birding in Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary.

SOURCE: ASEAN Biodiversity Updates Feb. 14

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