Oct 23, 2020

Stranded ‘dugong’ calf is placed under intensive care in Busuanga

STRANDED DUGONG CALF: Bughaw, the dugong calf that was found stranded on a beach in Busuanga town is now under intensive care by volunteer veterinarians and environment authorities who want it to survive.

A recently stranded 105-centimeter male dugong (sea cow) calf has been placed under intensive care by environmental authorities in Busuanga town, northern Palawan, in an attempt to save its life.

Named “Bughaw”, the young sea cow was found stranded on April 7 on a beach in Barangay Bogtong, Busuanga, without its mother.

Reynante Ramilo, program coordinator of C3 Philippines, a Busuanga-based non-government organization (NGO) concentrating on dugong conservation in the province told Palawan News this Saturday that even though an orphaned dugong calf has a minimal-to-zero chance of survival, they are still expecting Bughaw to make it.

“Halos anim na araw ng hindi lumilitaw ang nanay… nagki-create ng sounds ‘yong baby dugong pero walang lumalapit na nanay. Kung patay ‘yong nanay o may nangyari sa nanay ay lulutang or lalabas siya sa mga kalapit na baybayin. Naghanap rin kami, nagtanung-tanong sa mga komunidad pero wala namang mga nabalita na merong pumatay o nakakita [man lang] ng dugong. Ngayon patuloy pa rin ‘yong pagha-hanap namin sa nanay. ‘Yong [importante ngayon ay] maipag-sama ulit sila para mabuhay [si Bughaw]. Umiikot pa rin araw-araw ang Bantay Dugong para hanapin [ang nanay ni Bughaw],” Ramilo said.

Ramilo added that the surest way to ensure Bughaw’s survival is to reunite him with his mother for parental care.

A C3 Philippines volunteer veterinarian checks on the condition of Bughaw in a marine intensive care facility in Busuanga. He was found stranded on April 7 on a beach in the town.

Dr. Leo Suarez and Dr. Sandy Ling Choo from Ocean Adventure and Philippine Mammal Stranding Network (PMMSN) are currently monitoring the health and medical condition of Bughaw.

He noted another doctor from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB), Dr. Riza Salinas, will also join the team in taking care of the dugong calf.

Ramilo said Bughaw is estimated to be only around one-year-old, which is still far from the age it can be weaned from maternal care dependence.

“Ang dugong talagang kailangan niya ‘yong nanay niya nang hanggang halos anim na taon. Dumedede siya hanggang halos dalawang taon. Si Bughaw bata pa talaga. Sinisikap na lang ng team, with the help ng ating mga volunteers na vet na magawa ‘yong makakaya. Pero sa karanasan malungkot mang isipin o sabihin ay talagang halos walang nagsu-survive na baby dugong kung walang nanay,” he pointed out.

When asked if their team had already considered euthanizing Bughaw to prevent it from further suffering, Ramilo said: “it will be the last and the least option to make which only the doctors can decide upon.”

Ramilo said Bughaw lost 2.5 kilograms in just a week.

“Actually bumababa na ‘yong timbang niya… as of kaninang alas-kuwatro ng hapon, binibigyan nalang talaga ng gatas. Medyo hindi na [siya] masyadong maliksi sa paghinga, kailangan ngayon na 24/7 na bantayan na talaga siya. Ina-assure ngayon ng C3 Philippines na laging may doktor na titingin sa kaniya. Ngayon nagmo-mobilize talaga ang mga volunteer,” Ramilo said.

He noted their rehabilitation of Bughaw is in coordination with the joint efforts of PMMSN, DENR-BMB, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), Coron Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), Bantay Dugong Association (BDA), Bogtong Barangay Council and Bantay Gubat, Busuanga local government, and other concerned citizens.

Ramilo said the story of Bughaw is a lesson to everybody about the importance of caring for animals and of being a good steward of God’s creation.

“Iyong mga komunidad, sana ay kapulutan ng aral ‘yong nangyari kay Bughaw na mahalaga ang buhay ilang. Ang dugong ay para ring tao na kailangang alagaan at pahalagahan. [Nais ko] na makita nila at matutunan, lalo na ang mga volunteers ng Bantay Dugong [Association] na mga mangingisda na laging lumalabas sa dagat at laging nakaka-kita at nakaka-interact dito sa mga dugong, na pahalagahan nila ‘yong tahanan ng dugong at patuloy silang maki-isa doon sa pangangalaga ng mga mahahalagang hayop sa kanilang bayan, lalo na dito sa Busuanga, Palawan,” Ramilo said.

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