Napoleon Wrasse is Apo Reef Natural Park’s flagship species

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources MIMAROPA Region, and the Protected Area Management Board of Apo Reef Natural Park have approved on May 10 a resolution declaring Napoleon Wrasse (Cheilinus undulatus) as the park’s flagship species.

Napoleon Wrasse is one of the largest of all reef fishes and the biggest of the wrasse family, Labridae. It has thick lips and bulbous hump on the forehead. It is marked with green and blue hues with elongated dark spots on scales, and two distinct lines stretching from each eye. This species may grow up to six feet long and weighs up to 200 kilograms. Contrary to its masculine name, Napoleon Wrass is hermaphrodites, which means some females can become males once they reach sexual maturity.

The species is commonly found on steep coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific region, which include areas in Southeast Asia like the Philippines’ Apo Reef Natural Park in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro. As flagship species, Napoleon Wrasse shall serve as the symbol of conservation of Apo Reef. This follows the guidelines in identifying flagship species set by DENR Department Memorandum Order No. 1993-07, which take into account the species’ outstanding characteristics, occurrence, capacity to attract attention, and contribution to conservation areas.
Napoleon Wrasse, named locally as Mameng, is one of the few fishes that feed on toxic animals, such as crown-of-thorns starfish, a poisonous starfish that feeds on corals. Without Napoleon Wrasse, crown-of-thorns starfish would proliferate and devour the corals and prevent their formation.

“We consider Napoleon Wrasse as the guardian of the reef. It is a key player in maintaining balance and vibrancy of marine ecosystem in Apo Reef,” Park Area Superintendent Celso Almazan explained.

“Apart from this, Apo Reef owes its pink sand to the Napoleon Wrasse,” added Almazan.

Almazan explained that the Napoleon Wrasse feeds on mollusks, fishes, sea urchins, crustaceans, and other invertebrates; once digested, these are secreted by Napoleon Wrasse as fine, pinkish organic materials which, over a long period of time, mix with fragmented rock and mineral particles, and form as sand.

Aside from traits and ecological importance, the species’ threat status and inclusion to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), also form part of the guidelines in the selection of flagship species.
Napoleon Wrasse is listed by the International Union on the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Endangered based on “a population reduction of at least 50% over the last 30 years.”

The alarming drop of population rate can be attributed to illegal, unregulated, and unreported trade of Napoleon Wrasse.
Napoleon Wrasse is harvested and usually served in expensive banquets; it is also collected for aquarium business. The coral reefs, which are the preferred habitat of Napoleon Wrasse, are also under threat from the effects of human activities, such as cyanide fishing.

Because of these, the species is included in CITES Appendix II, which “lists species that are not necessarily threatened with extinction now but may become so in the future unless trade is closely controlled.”

“It is our mandate to conserve and protect our natural resources, especially those that are endangered like Napoleon Wrasse. There is an ecotourism management program that restricts the volume and activities of tourists to minimize the disturbance of wildlife in Apo Reef. There is also a “No Take Zone Policy” in the island and regular patrolling to ensure protection not only of Napoleon Wrasse but also of the rest of the species in Apo Reef,” Regional Director Natividad Bernardino stated.

“We envision a future where we, our children and grandchildren, and the next generations, can still see and experience the awesomeness of Napoleon Wrasse and other aquatic species in Apo Reef,” she said.

Apo Reef Natural Park was declared as a Protected Area through Presidential Proclamation No. 868 on September 6, 1996. By virtue of Section 11 of Republic Act No. 7586, the National Integrated Protected Area System (NIPAS), a Protected Area Management Board is created to supervise the operations, protection, and conservation of a protected area. It is composed of representatives from the DENR, the local government, non-government organizations and civil society.###




DENR apprehends driver transporting dead wildlife

The Community Environment and Natural Resources Office in Puerto Princesa City, together with the Philippine National Police, apprehended today the driver of an unplated elf truck carrying dead marine turtles and pangolins while passing through a security checkpoint station in Brgy. Sta. Lourdes.

Officials of CENRO PPC's Regulation and Enforcement Unit assigned in the station identified the driver as Joshue A. Calinog, who was also found to have an unlicensed .38 caliber pistol.

Palawan’s Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Felizardo Cayatoc said Calinog was driving the truck loaded with 21 pangolins which scales were removed and then frozen; and 16 marine turtles (one green and 15 hawksbill), which intestinal parts were also removed and with only their heads and shells left intact. Pangolins and sea turtles are endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Authorities reported that the truck was from Roxas town. They have questioned Calinog but he had kept mum about the species. The driver was turned over to the police, while the wildlife species were brought to Palawan Council for Sustainable Development for proper documentation.

As this develops, DENR MIMAROPA Regional Director Henry Adornado has instructed the PENRO and CENRO concerned to coordinate with the authorities for the immediate filing of appropriate charges against the offender in view of the provisions of Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, and other laws. He also instructed all regional and field personnel to be more vigilant and intensify monitoring operations to track down and prevent unscrupulous individuals or groups from harming nature and wildlife.

“It was clear from the President’s State of the Nation Address. Protection of the environment must be our top priority. It will be a long journey and we are certain we will face a lot of challenges ahead. But we are more than ready to heed the call. Strategic measures are already in place and we are closely working with other agencies to strictly implement environmental laws and improve our operations. We can assure the public that we, at the DENR, uphold the welfare of our environment and natural resources above all else,” he said. ###

Photo Releases

"Hindi po magiging ganito kaganda ang El Nido kung hindi ito nai-proklama bilang isang Protected Area."

-Vice Mayor Leonor Corral

DENR Palawan and CENRO PPC personnel joined the 1st SUBARAW Biodiversity Festival Parade and Float Competition last November 11, 2018 at Puerto Princesa City, Palawan

"Di po namin kaya kung kami lang sa DENR ang kikilos kaya nagpapasalamat po kami sa ating lokal na pamahalaan at mga partner agencies na kasama namin sa nakaraan at sa susunod pang 20 taon ng pangangalaga sa El Nido."

-Regional Executive Director Henry A. Adornado

"Napakasarap po sa pakiramdam na sa nakaraan 20 taon, nabigyan ako ng pagkakataon mapangalagaan at maprotektahan ang El Nido, ang ating kalikasan. Makakaasa po ang ating mga kababayan, ang DENR, na patuloy nating poprotektahan ang El Nido, dahil ito ay ating tahanan"

-Mayor Nieves Rosento

Themed "Nurturing shared responsibility for biodiversity conservation, the event celebrates two decades of concerted efforts of various stakeholders in protecting, saving and conserving El Nido

Taytay CENRO Pablo Cruz welcomes guests at the 20th anniversary celebration of ENTMRPA. "We thank you and reconize your roles in making our activities in 2018 successful and meaningful."

Turn-over Ceremony of EMB-MIMAROPA Regional Director

Let's explore the TAMWorld! A photo and art exhibit organized by Far Eastern University in celebration of Tamaraw Month this October.

Hataw Tamaraw!

Some 10 live critically endangered scally anteaters (Pangolin or balintong) were seized Friday from a fisherman moonlighting as an illegal wildlife trader in Barangay Liminangcong, Taytay town.

(Photo courtesy: Voltaire delos Angeles/CENRO-QRT Taytay)

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