Talarak Foundation Inc. works on the Philippine island of Negros to rescue, rehabilitate and protect threatened local species. Talarak focuses on species that are endemic to the Philippines (i.e. they are not found anywhere else) and that are globally assessed as Endangered or Critically Endangered.
The name, “Talarak”, is the local name for the Rufous-headed Hornbill, which is the organisation’s flagship species, and one of five focal species it manages in its two rescue and captive breeding centres.
Talarak’s five focal species are:
- Rufous-headed Hornbill (Rhabdotorrhinus waldeni) – Critically Endangered
- Negros Bleeding Heart Dove (Gallicolumba keayi) – Critically Endangered
- Visayan Warty Pig (Sus cebifrons) – Critically Endangered
- Visayan Spotted Deer (Rusa alfrediI) – Endangered
- Visayan Tarictic Hornbill (Penelopides panini) – Endangered
Talarak has now successfully bred all five of its focal species and manages healthy populations of each in captivity, which is an impressive task. The most challenging species to breed is the Rufous-headed (or Talarak) hornbill, as bonded pairs are very difficult to form in captivity. This species, like all hornbills, sees the female seal herself in a nest for up to 105 days to lay and incubate her eggs, where she is then completely reliant on the male to feed her. In 2019 Talarak successfully bred a Rufous-headed hornbill, which was the first successful breeding of this species in nine years.
Talarak also carries out conservation education with the public, schools, local government bodies and local community members, and works to build capacity in forest wardens, and implement laws to protect Philippine wildlife. Currently, Talarak is in the early stages of developing a conservation translocation and reintroduction programme based on strong science. In 2019, Synchronicity Earth supported Talarak in hosting a conservation planning workshop for its five focal species. For each species, the workshop looked at the status of the population in the wild, its habitat requirements and threats, its status in captivity and the purpose of keeping it in captivity, and current projects and organisations working on the species. Following this, the workshop developed an overall multi-species conservation strategy. This highlights key steps for supporting all five species, including increased enforcement of protected areas, habitat protection and reforestation, community engagement, and re-introduction of captive animals to the wild. Talarak is now taking steps towards implementing this strategy, with the vision of supporting thriving populations of each of these animals in the wild.