Date: January 30, 2006
FIRST, YOU must count the birds.
the government should be commended for its zeal in buying
medicines and preparing hospitals in case the avian
flu hits the Philippines, a serious bird census must
first be conducted.
must know where the birds are, what species, their numbers—you
can monitor any deaths or decreases in the [bird] population,”
president of the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines,
told the Inquirer in a phone interview.
the people conducting the surveys are not adequately
trained and equipped in bird identification, resulting
in poor data gathering and misidentification of species,”
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
is tasked with collecting data for the Asian Waterbird
Census, part of a global survey of
waterbirds held annually in the second and third weeks
DENR, with its limited bird watching experience and
restrained resources, is unable to accurately monitor
the number of migratory birds in the country, casting
doubt on the credibility of data which the Philippines
submits to Malaysia for the Asian Waterbird Census.
instance, during a recent bird census at the Candaba
Swamp in Pampanga province -- one of more than 20 critical
sites identified by the government
for monitoring in its national anti-avian flu campaign
-- Wild Bird Club members identified 35 species and
saw 11,000 birds. The DENR in the past 5 years had recorded
maximum annual counts at 10 species and less than 4,000
said their club members turned up better-equipped than
the DENR -- both in knowledge and resources -- to record
data for the Asian Waterbird Census.
had more equipment than the government and we were doing
it for free,” Lu said.
Wild Bird Club of the Philippines was established in
July 2003 to promote bird-watching as a hobby. It has
150 members, who contributed data
to the survey based on their observations in Manila,
Cebu and Pampanga. The club conducts monthly guided
trips for the general public.
Custodio, national coordinator of the Asian Waterbird
Census for the Philippines, admitted that lack of funding
resulted in discrepancies in the DENR data.
said individual field offices often did not have enough
funds to train people and to pay for transportation
to monitor the resting areas of migratory birds.
personnel sometimes choose sites that are easier to
monitor, such as those close to their offices,”
DENR recorded a total of 111,371 birds at 55 monitoring
sites across the Philippines for the Asian Waterbird
Census last year.
survey has been conducted in the Philippines since 1989
and coincides with mid-winter in the region, a period
when migratory birds are less active and can be more