10 near-threatened doves, known as Bleeding Hearts, returned by Jurong Bird Park to the Philippines

Go forth and multiply.

Zhangxin Zheng | August 21, 2020, 12:37 AM

Besides being one of places of attraction, the wildlife parks in Singapore play an important role in conservation and public education.

At Jurong Bird Park, a set of doves, which are endemic to the Philippines, have made their way back home, marking the success of the breeding programme which started in 2012.

Bleeding Hearts in Jurong Bird Park

Back in 2012, the Jurong Bird Park took in two pairs of Luzon Bleeding Hearts from the Philippines as part of a conservation breeding agreement among Jurong Bird Park, Avilon Zoo and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of the Philippines.

These doves are native to the Philippines and can only be found there.

These beautiful birds got their unique name due to the distinct splash of vivid red right in the centre of their white breasts.

Photo courtesy of WRS.

These Bleeding Hearts are shy ground dwellers, which are found in the rainforests of central and southern Luzon and on the neighbouring Polilo Islands in the Philippines.

Sadly, their striking red feathers make them an easy target for poachers and their gorgeous appearance make them victims of the pet trade.

Adding to that, the loss of habitats has also contributed to the decrease in their population in the wild, resulting in their near threatened species status, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species.

Lauded as "historic achievement" to breed 60 Bleeding Hearts in 8 years

Today, the Jurong Bird Park has successfully bred a total of 60 Bleeding Hearts from the two pairs that were sent to Singapore eight years ago.

The Assistant Secretary for Climate Change and concurrent Director of the Biodiversity Management Bureau of DENR, Ricardo L. Calderon, lauded the conservation efforts of Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), calling it a "historical achievement on the ex-situ conservation breeding of the species".

Calderon added that the successful breeding of Bleeding Hearts shows that such collaborations with the wildlife parks are important to save species that are at risk of extinction.

Besides the Bleeding Hearts, the collaboration with the Philippines' DENR includes a Wildlife Loan Agreement involving a pair of magnificent looking Philippines eagles that are critically endangered.

Return to the wild

Among these 60 Bleeding Hearts, 10 have been repatriated back to the Philippines.

The birds were housed in a transport crate and took the morning flight on Aug. 20 to go back to their hometown.

Prior to that, the birds had undergone a month-long quarantine and a series of health checks to ensure they are in good health.

Photo courtesy of WRS.

Photo courtesy of WRS.

Photo courtesy of WRS.

Upon arriving in the Philippines, the birds will have to undergo another month-long quarantine in the care of DENR.

They will then be set free into the wild, to a protected area on their native island of Luzon.

Director of Zoology at WRS, Luis Neves, said that this repatriation demonstrates the critical role that zoological institutions play in the conservation of threatened species.

"The ultimate goal is to be able to help strengthen populations in the wild when there is a need for it and this is just the beginning because we hope there will be many more reintroductions to come," Neves added.

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Top photo courtesy of WRS