Candaba wild birds hunted despite ban

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POACHERS’ TARGET Bird hunters have descended on Candaba Swamp, a sanctuary for endemic and migratory wild birds in Pampanga, threatening to bring to naught conservation efforts. E.I. REYMOND T. OREJAS/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZO

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Despite a ban, bird hunting has resumed in the globally important habitat of migratory waterfowls in Candaba town, Pampanga province, a volunteer reported on Sunday.

Albert Manalili, a local animal welfare advocate, said poachers from nearby Bulacan had been coming almost daily to Paligui village since last week.

“They (poachers) are armed with shotguns and panpugo (a bamboo contraption), and they ignore our warnings and advice not to shoot the birds,” Manalili, 54, told the Inquirer by telephone.

“One told me that he was not concerned about the ban because Jerry Pelayo is not anymore the mayor here,” he said.

Despite a national and local ban on bird hunting, Manalili said the Philippine mallard or duck (locally known as “dumara”) had become a favorite poaching target. Some people relish the Philippine duck’s soft meat, especially in adobo.

Vulnerable

The Philippine duck (Anas luzonica) is the country’s only endemic duck, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). It is classified as “vulnerable” under the Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

According to Manalili, birds known here as “tikling,” “wis” and “bato-bato” are also being killed.

The new mayor, Rene Maglanque, said he had ordered the police to verify the information relayed by Manalili.

“The municipal government will at all times advocate the strict implementation of laws and ordinances involving wildlife protection and conservation,” Maglanque said, articulating for the first time his administration’s policy on Candaba Swamp.

Republic Act No. 9147 imposes the conservation and protection of wildlife resources.

Wildlife zone

Resolution No. 51, sponsored by Councilor Pedro Guevarra in 2004, declared the 33,000-hectare Candaba Swamp a bird sanctuary. The wildlife habitat straddles Nueva Ecija and Bulacan.

Guevarra’s resolution augmented a 2003 ordinance that declared Candaba Swamp a “freshwater, aquaculture resource and fish sanctuary zone for the purpose of protecting and preserving its flora and fauna.”

These declarations, according to the 2004 resolution, “bolster the municipality’s quest of harnessing and developing its ecotourism potential.”

In February, a bird hunter, Herbert Jacobe, was arrested and charged with violating RA No. 9147 for killing 12 dumara.

Sought for comment, Pelayo said Maglanque only had to enforce the laws to be able to protect the birds and their habitat in the town.

“I know he has his priorities and I hope bird conservation is among them because this is beneficial for the global and local biodiversity as well as ecotourism of Candaba,” the former mayor said.

Bird population

The Asian Waterbird Census done in January by the DENR and the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines in two sites counted 5,475 fowls, less than half of the 12,600 birds tallied in the 2012 census.

Two new species—a dusky warbler and the common shell duck—were sighted at a nearby pond in Sitio (settlement) Macagatal. The warbler was seen on Pelayo’s farm in Doña Simang.

The January census showed 14 migratory species, including the little egret, intermediate egret, great egret, gray heron, common teal, northern shoveler, tufted duck, common kingfisher, common sandpiper, wood sandpiper, northern pintail, garganey, whiskered tern and the eagle-like eastern marsh harrier.

A bean goose, known only to live in Europe, was first seen in the Philippines, in Candaba, in March 2010, according to the Fauna and Flora International, the oldest conservation group in the world.

Candaba recorded 67 migratory birds and 53 local species in the 1990s. Migratory birds flock to its swamp starting October and leave by March.

Candaba Swamp is one of five wetlands in Central Luzon. The others are  Paitan Lake in Cuyapo town and Pantabangan Dam, both in Nueva Ecija; Puerto Rivas in Balanga City, and Consuelo in Macabebe town in Pampanga.

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