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Catarman Declares Itself a Wildlife Sanctuary to Preserve Biodiversity

CATARMAN, CAMIGUIN—The town of Catarman on Camiguin Island has been officially designated as a wildlife sanctuary, a move aimed at bolstering environmental conservation efforts within the area. According to Philippines News Agency, the local government enacted an ordinance to protect the town's rich biodiversity, which includes giant bats, monkeys, various butterfly species, and marine life such as dolphins, whale sharks, and squids.

The declaration comes as part of a broader initiative to preserve Catarman's natural habitats and wildlife. Notably, the town has gained attention for a century-old Balite tree at its center, now a habitat for around 700 giant bats, becoming a significant tourist attraction and a symbol of the town's natural heritage. In addition to terrestrial efforts, the town's marine environment, which is shared with the province, has also been recognized for recent sightings of adult whale sharks, highlighting the area's importance as a biodiversity hotspot.

The move coincides with the provincial government's preparations for the expected increase in tourist arrivals during the Lenten season, a time when Camiguin becomes a pilgrimage destination. With a target of 500,000 tourist arrivals annually, the province has already welcomed 32,688 visitors in the early months of the year, aiming to double the previous year's figures.