Candaba Swamp is located in the municipality of Candaba, Pampanga, 60 km northeast of Manila. The swamp encompasses about 32,000 ha, composed of freshwater ponds, swamps and marshes surrounded by seasonally flooded grasslands. During the wet season, the entire area becomes submerged underwater, but dries out during the months of November to April, when the swamp is converted to farmland by the locals. Rice and watermelon are usually planted, comprising the vegetation of the flood plain, together with patches of nipa palm and some mangrove species.
The Candaba swamp also acts as a natural flood retention basin during the rainy season. It holds the overflow from five smaller rivers (Maasim, San Miguel, Garlang, Bulu and Peñaranda), then drains into the larger Pampanga River.
The swamp is an extremely important staging and wintering area for thousands of migratory birds, particularly during the months of October through April. Rare migratory birds, such as seven purple swamphens (Porphyrio porphyrio), Chinese pond herons (Ardeola bacchus), and black-crowned night-herons (Nycticorax nycticorax), are included in the list of species documented in the swamp by birdwatchers. In 1982, about 100,000 ducks (Anatidae) were observed in a single day, a record for any site in the Philippines.
Because of its biodiversity, and because there are few other places close to Metro Manila that support such a range of wildlife, the swamp is a favorite spot for birdwatching, conservation education, and other nature-oriented outdoor activities. In order to protect the area, the swamp has been declared a bird sanctuary, under close monitoring by the DENR and the local government. Regulations include a permanent ban on hunting and strict management of land use.
2005 Avian Flu threat
In 2005, Candaba Swamp was placed under close monitoring by the Department of Health and the DENR for being a possible breeding ground for a deadly strain of bird flu. Officials reported that the migratory birds coming from different parts of Asia could be carriers of the disease. The threat has since been cleared.
- Dagumbay, Marna (18 Jun 2005). “Candaba swamp in Pampanga a bird-flu hotspot.” Sun Star Network Online. Accsed on 18 Oct 2007.
- Municipality of Candaba (2007). “Candaba Swamp.” Candaba Official Site. Accessed on 18 Oct 2007.
- Orejas, Tonette (17 Jan 2005). “Asian migratory birds back at Candaba Swamp.” INQ7.net. Accessed on 18 Oct 2007.
- Orejas, Tonette (16 Jan 2006). “Rare Birds Sighted at Candaba Swamp.” BirdWatch.ph. Accessed on 18 Oct 2007.