Meet this environmental hero of Palawan island sanctuary | Lifestyle.INQ
A diver among reef balls
A diver among reef balls

Meet this environmental hero of Palawan island sanctuary

A hawksbill turtle hatchling
A hawksbill turtle hatchling

At Banwa Private Island, team members are everyday heroes who passionately work together in the noble pursuit of protecting Mother Nature.

Surrounded by the untouched beauty of the island sanctuary in northeastern Palawan, the team’s collective love of nature has inspired each one to be custodians of the environment.

Meet Bernard, one of the team heads who leads the Aquos Foundation in its various local conservation endeavors and research initiatives. The Aquos Foundation, with the mission to conserve, protect and nurture the rich biodiversity in and around the marine protected reserve, is the environmental arm of Banwa Private Island.

Palawan being his childhood playground, Bernard developed his strong affinity for flora and fauna at a very young age. As a registered nurse by profession, he has an intrinsic gift of care and empathy for both people and nature.

Bernard of Aquos Foundation
Bernard of Aquos Foundation

Bernard, a pioneer of Aquos Foundation, has played a vital role in protecting and restoring the habitats of the critically endangered Mantanani scops owl, the hawksbill turtle and the Tabon bird (megapode).

Bernard works with scientists and researchers of note recording the growth of birdlife from 15 species in 2014 to 60 species in 2021 through area search methods and photo documentation.

Tabon bird nests grew from only three nests in 2012 to 200 nests in 2021. The thriving island landscape provides the perfect habitat for various migratory and native birds.

In 2018, there were 180 reef balls laid out on the sea floor as part of the reef rehabilitation program providing shelter to hawksbill turtles.

Reef balls and corals
Reef balls and corals

From learning how to swim with a life jacket, Bernard is currently in the process of furthering his dive education to dive master. He proudly inspects these reef balls with flourishing marine life and growing coral colonies.

Every morning, you will find Bernard checking on the megapode nesting sites at the Tabon bird sanctuary and inspecting the hawksbill turtle nesting grounds in the Coconut Grove and the villa gardens. Since 2016, over 5,800 hawksbill turtle eggs have been laid, of which 60 percent hatchlings have emerged.

A diver among reef balls

A diver among reef balls

Guests can have an active part in these eco-initiatives by joining Bernard on nature walks around the island, snorkeling the house reef and exploring the radiant corals, keeping count of how many local bird species one can spot in the lush vegetation, or witnessing the magic of baby turtles being released to the turquoise waters.

Banwa Private Island, WhatsApp tel. 0917-8882864; email [email protected] banwaprivateisland.com; banwaprivateisland.com