In South Cotabato, DENR rescues 21 birds from online market
KORONADAL CITY—The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos) region is stepping up its monitoring of the wildlife trade, especially on social media, following a raid on the house of a vlogger in South Cotabato province who was illegally keeping birds and offering these for sale.
Khadija Bayam Benpolok, DENR regional information chief, on Friday said that they discovered the online transactions through the raid at Barangay Danlag in Tampakan town on Feb. 1.
Authorities were tipped off about the caged birds in the house of the still unnamed vlogger, prompting DENR regional director Felix Alicer to form teams to investigate and eventually launch the operation, Benpolok said.
With the backing of local police, DENR personnel seized 21 birds, some of these kept by the vlogger and others held by neighbors. The suspect was not around during the raid and had yet to be found as of Friday.
Benpolok said some of the birds were being sold online while others were used in shows or content on social media that were produced to demonstrate bird trapping, hunting, and making of birdcages and traps. A social media channel featuring this content has at least 22,000 subscribers, he said.
In cahoots with hunters
Mama Samaon, DENR assistant regional director for technical services, said the vlogger was in cahoots with local bird hunters whom they would identify once the complaints were filed.
Among the birds recovered are crested goshawk and several short-billed brown doves.
The rescued birds have been turned over to the DENR Regional Wildlife Rescue Center in Lutayan town, Sultan Kudarat province, for proper care and temporary custody before these are released back to the wild.
Samaon said the suspects violated Republic Act No. 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, which prohibits the collection, hunting or possession of wildlife.
“We are already preparing the filing of criminal charges against the suspects,” Samaon said.
Juvenile wild birds are sold between P2,000 and P5,000 in Tampakan. The price goes higher depending on the species and when the bird is an adult, according to the environment officials.
“We advise the public not to capture any wildlife species. Let them live in their natural habitat,” said forester Dirie Macabaning, chief of the DENR enforcement division in the region.