MANILA -- The Philippines has intensified the protection of a critically endangered migratory bird that regularly visits this country.

Amidst international efforts to better protect wildlife, the Philippines secured approval of its proposal to include Christmas Island frigatebird (scientific name 'Fregata andrewsi') in Appendix I of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).

Appendix I covers migratory species in danger of extinction either throughout all or a significant portion of these organisms' range.

CMS parties that are range States to Appendix I species "shall endeavor to strictly protect them by prohibiting the taking of such species, with very restricted scope for exceptions; conserving and where appropriate restoring their habitats; preventing, removing or mitigating obstacles to their migration and controlling other factors that might endanger them," said the Convention.

To enhance protection for Christmas Island frigatebird, the Philippines said it aims to collaborate with Australia as well as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and other range States where substantial numbers of this bird occur.

Christmas Island frigatebird and four other species that also regularly visit the Philippines -- the endangered whale shark or 'butanding' (Rhincodon typus), vulnerable Yellow bunting (Emberiza sulphurata), endangered Worcester's black noddy (Anous minutus worcesteri) and vulnerable White-spotted wedgefish (Rhincobatus australiae) -- will be included in CMS appendices as the country proposed at CMS COP 12.

"The country considers such development a success for the environment and assurance that generations to come will get to enjoy the beauty and splendor of such species," the Philippines' Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Rodolfo Garcia said Saturday (October 28) at the closing press conference for CMS COP 12.

Known to breed only in Australia's Christmas Island, experts said Christmas Island frigatebird occurs non-breeding in waters of South Asian countries including the Philippines.

The bird is among avian species that pass through the Philippines while traveling along East Asian-Australasian Flyway, they noted.

Such bird is protected under the Philippines' RA 9147 (Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001).

The Philippines still raised urgency for further protecting the bird, however, noting that only about 5,000 adults of this species remain.

Destruction of the bird's habitat and breeding sites, live catching, marine pollution and entanglement in fishing gear are contributing to declining of this specie's population, warned experts.

According to DENR, whale shark will be included in CMS' Appendix I like Christmas Island frigatebird.

Yellow bunting, Worcester's black noddy and White-spotted wedgefish will be included in CMS' Appendix II , DENR continued.

Appendix II requires international agreements covering such species' conservation and management. (PNA)