How city wildlife has found a new niche on social media

October 8, 2018 - 5:39 PM
The various exotic insects, reptiles and plants showcased by The Ateneo Wild. (Photos from their Instagram account)

The Instagram account of The Ateneo Wild is gaining fame online for showcasing the wildlife and biodiversity that can be found in the Ateneo de Manila University campus in Loyola Heights, Quezon City.

Colorful birds, insects and mysterious fungi are among those that have been featured on the Instagram account, which currently has 523 followers.

Tingnan ang post na ito sa Instagram


Glass windows can be very dangerous for our campus birds! Sometimes, birds see the reflection of the trees and sky and fly right into the glass, thinking there is no barrier. At best they are just dazed and recover quickly. This coppersmith barbet (Megalaima haemacephala) was found by the guards outside the Soc Sci building. Riel Gutierrez and his classmates took it inside to cool down and recover. Thankfully it did, and it was successfully released back outside. Sadly, some birds are fatally injured and die from hitting the windows. If you find a bird which was a victim of a window collision, keep it in a cool, dark, and safe place (away from predators!) like a shoebox to calm it and allow it to recover. Avoid touching it or making a fuss over it as this will further traumatize the bird! Hopefully it will fly off when you set it free. Thanks Riel for reporting this window strike! Please report any window strikes you might observe to The Ateneo Wild! #windowstrike #PSA #coppersmithbarbet #urbanecology #urbanbirds #citizenscience #campusbiodiversity #theateneowild

Isang post na ibinahagi ni The Ateneo Wild Project (@theateneowild) noong

It has since expanded into a Facebook page that thoroughly introduces the creatures it discovers and invites students to share their own discoveries on the campus.

Among its recent discoveries are a non-venomous snake and a snail that can grow to large sizes.

The Ateneo campus, which is partly located in the mountainous area near the Marikina Valley, contains patches of forest land and has become home to an assortment of animals.

A large monitor lizard or bayawak was caught by security personnel in the campus in July 2018, at the height of the rainy season.

In 2013, a new species of water beetle was discovered by biologists in one of the ponds inside the campus. It was named Hydraena ateneo after the school.

Wildlife within the city 

The Ateneo Wild Project is not the only group in the Metropolis looking to conserve wildlife and nature in the concrete jungle.

It has a counterpart page based in nearby University of the Philippines Diliman campus.

Aside from showcasing its own assortment of critters, UP Wild also pays tribute to the ancient trees, creeks and natural structures in its campus.

One group of cyclists, the Firefly Brigade, meanwhile holds the annual “Tour of the Fireflies” to promote cycling as a sustainable and nature-friendly mode of transportation.

The group works with various clean air initiatives to spread its advocacy of educating commuters on the benefits of healthy, sustainable transportation in the bustling city.

The lack of fireflies in the city at nighttime, according to the group, is proof of how severe the air pollution problem in the city.

“The lack of fireflies in the city is only a testament to the polluted air we breathe. The fireflies have fled because of air pollution,” said Katti Sta. Anna of the Firefly Brigade in previous media interviews.

The disappearance of fireflies is not just a problem in Metro Manila.

Some environmental researchers have discovered that rapid urban expansion around the world has led to a decline in firefly populations in the past few decades due to light pollution, chemical waste and destruction of their natural habitat.—Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos