Iloilo Wildlife Conservation Park opens to the public
ILOITO CITY – Visitors are advised to be extra careful while at the Mari-it Wildlife and Conservation Park in Lambunao, in the town of Iloilo, which is now open to the public.
Dr JB Ian Bullo, veterinarian at West Visayas State University-College of Agriculture and Forestry (WVSU-CAF) in Barangay Jayubo, where the park is located, said this time happens to be a breeding season for some animals at inside the park.
“As it is the breeding season, the areas to visit are limited; they can no longer go beyond the deer (zone), ”he said in an interview.
Deer reproduce from October to November. It is also the breeding season until January for the crooked hornbill Visayan or the “talarak” and the warty pig Visayan.
“When they visit, we make sure that they don’t create too much noise,” he added.
Nonetheless, he said visitors are manageable as there aren’t many as the area is far from the city proper.
Mari-it (enchanted) is the first conservation, breeding and rescue park on the island of Panay. It is located on 1,000 hectares of land within the 3,000 hectare campus of West Visayas State University-College of Agriculture and Forestry (WVSU-CAF) in Barangay Jayubo, approximately 10 miles from downtown Lambunao.
It is currently home to 15 Visayan twisted hornbills, considered the second most threatened hornbill in the world, and the endangered Visayan tarictic hornbill; 20 endangered Visayan spotted deer; 11 critically endangered Visayan warty pigs; five vulnerable Visayan leopard cats; and two cloud rats, among others.
He said it is forbidden to approach deer, leopard cats and monkeys because they are aggressive during breeding.
Lambunao tourism officer Jennifer Osorio in an interview on Thursday said guests should observe protocols such as wearing face masks, face shields, hand washing and logging in and logging out for contact tracing .
“The maximum number of guests is only 30 at a time,” she said.
Osorio said most of the guests were also from Lambunao or, if not, schools on an educational tour.
Meanwhile, she said the pandemic has allowed the animals to rest. Although the number of guests is controlled, the animals could still be stressed if they are exposed to noise or anything new to them, she added.
“It’s time to rejuvenate,” she said.
The animal and conservation park is promoted as an ecotourism site. Besides endangered species, it is also home to rich flora and fauna. (ANP)