Forests are a source of recreation as well as the ecosystem among wildlife, dense jungle, local flora and fauna, and the subsistence of some endangered species in our country including primates, most kind of which lives in trees especially in tropical areas.
To the hinterlands of Negros island of which are overgrown with dense and virgin forests, the presence of monkeys in the region are in great threat due mainly on growing human population, and monkey hunting drives this species to near threatened status.
In connection with this, wildlife advocates are committed to give a voice for environment and animal concerns, guidance of traditional practice of the tribe, preservation and protection of our biodiversity. The Sta. Catalina Biodiversity Conservation Project was headed by the park chieftain of Brgy Kabulakan Lucas Valor, together with Sta. Catalina Bukidnon Tribe Association and was made possible through the assistance of Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE), also in cooperation with local government of Santa Catalina and Negros Island Initiatives for Rural Development (NIRD),Inc.are working hand in hand to reach a common goal of providing a healthy habitat of monkeys in our region into perpetuity.
The Sta. Catalina wildlife sanctuary is the home of endemic trees, birds, reptiles and Philippine long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis philippensis) a subspecies of Crab-eating macaques.
- Medium-sized monkey with total body length of about 17 inches to 24 inches
- General color upper parts of body mummy brown, the hair ringed with blackish brown; top of head tinged strongly with chestnut color,while their undersides are much lighter
- Tail is often longer than its body (typically 40–65 cm (16–26 in)
- Infants are born black
- Males are taller and heavier than females (between 412 and 648 mm (1.35 and 2.13 ft) and weigh, on average, between 4.7 and 8.3 kg (10.4 and 18.3 lb)
- Females measure only 385 to 503 mm (1.26 to 1.74 ft) and have average weights between 2.5 and 5.7 kg (5.5 and 12.6 lb)
- Male macaques have much larger canine teeth
- Macaques are primarily arboreal and can leap distances between trees up to five meters, using their long tails for balance
- Both males and females have white coloration on the eyelids near the nose
Currently, there are 50 monkeys in the park and are freely wandering in their natural habitat. This type of monkeys prefers to occupy forested areas near water and are found in higher densities near riverbanks which Kabulakan area is a good spot for them. The reserve area is bordered by a wide river with mountains covered with dense trees.
It was a delight seeing them not as pet nor confined in a cage.As soon as I arrived, I was greeted by a band of monkeys leaping at the branches to branches, in a strange noise they gathered in the viewing area. One thing they were staring at me is the plastic bag I was carrying, I know they were thinking food inside.
Feeding them is the main activity in the sanctuary, 60 to 90% of their diet are mostly on fruits and seeds and so I bought them some bananas, though they eat other fruits too and some plant matters, foods provided by humans are also being consumed but bananas are the most ideal fruit to feed.
The group or band is lead by a dominant male which is the oldest and the biggest. There were about 20 of them in the viewing area when I visited, the rest were wandering in the wilderness. Caretakers named the leader of the group as “Governor”. He is the oldest and the bravest as I observed, like any other male in the group he has a rude behavior of which I was very cautious . As a result, I just toss the bananas so as they could not come closer. They were good catchers.
The park is open everyday to everyone, no entrance fee is levied, donations are very welcome and of great help for this creatures. Though they are endemic in our country, this monkeys are the frontier specie in the province of Negros Oriental. Visitors may bring any fruit for them or better yet bananas are their favorite.
Saving this animals into extinction is in the hands of mankind, educating people for their conservation should be addressed to everyone specially the younger generations. Let us help in saving our biodiversity.
How to get there:
The Wildlife Sanctuary can be reached via Pamplona town or Santa Catalina town proper. Head your way to Brgy. Kabulakan. From the national highway, visitors may walk at around 10 minutes or so to reach the area. Visitors may now easily access the sanctuary through a steel bridge connecting a nearby community to the park.
Other things to do:
Aside from interaction with the primates, you may also visit the nearby Mantabios falls.