By Jann Vinze Barcinal, Dulungan Youth
Youth-led environmental organization Dulungan Youth organized a wildlife lecture and photography workshop-exhibit for local high school students at the Culasi Manpower Development Center in accordance with the worldwide celebration of World Wildlife Day (March 3 every year).
The workshop-exhibit, organized in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of Culasi, is part of the youth organization’s engagement activities to strengthen wildlife conservation in Antique.
“One way to conserve our wildlife is through gathering, to inform you that there are endangered species that need our protection,” Jenevib Panganiban, a technical support specialist at DENR CENRO-Culasi, said in her opening remarks.
World Wildlife Day, with this year’s theme “Sustaining All Life on Earth”, is celebrated to raise awareness of the world’s fauna and flora, according to Panganiban. “In connection with the DENR mandate, we are doing the following measures to continuously protect and conserve our wildlife resources,” the technical support specialist added.
Part of the photo exhibit were various photos of wild native, endemic, and migratory birds taken by Ilonggo wildlife photographers Josiah David Quimpo, who is also a conservation specialist for Haribon Foundation, and Jerricho “Stance” Mitchell Espanola, who also works as a graphic designer and filmmaker.
During the workshop, Espanola discussed the basics of wildlife photography and his experiences while practicing his craft to 30 youth attendees.
“It’s obvious that most youth nowadays are into taking pictures and in my situation, I became more aware of the environment because of photography. I want to protect wildlife because I want to take more pictures of it,” the photographer said.
Espanola added that with the rise of social media trends, and the nature of people to jump on those trends, sharing information through photos about wildlife online became easier.
“You take these habits or personalities of them and use them as leverage to help and influence with a purpose,” he explained.
With members consisting mostly of teenagers, Dulungan Youth seeks to develop more environmentally conscious youth. The youth organization intends to do so by using youth engagement as a major strategy to make young people the frontrunners for wildlife protection and conservation in Antique.
“Our generation is very aware that our environment is rapidly degrading and we want to send a message to our fellow youth: Age is not a hindrance to creating change in saving our wildlife,” said Dulungan Youth member Remia Joy Gonzales.
Going beyond their hometown, the youth organization is also committed to save the rest of Panay’s biodiversity—specifically the remaining forest land of the Central Panay Mountain Range (CPMR), considering its rapid destruction due to human activities. The CPMR has lost most of its forests and only 8% was left of its original forest area.
“That’s why we decided to focus on our fellow youth, because we want them to understand how important each life is,” Gonzales said. “But sadly, if we won’t do anything now, there is a big possibility that there will be no future not only for them, but also for us and for generations to come.”