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Philippine Duck
Viewpoint : Fallout
By Juan Mercado
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Posted date: December 26, 2007

"Slaughter of the birds" (Inquirer 12/13 /07) sparked comments from scientists and officials. But some hunters e-mailed furious abuse. Read Kristofer Antonio:

"You've no right to label us hunters as 'slaughterers of birds.' All of you who are environmentalist `kuno' are hypocrites. You've never even been in a wild forest before… They know 0% of the environment while 100% mental part pang mental health institution (sic). Why not write about real estate developers? Do they not contribute too much to your so-called 'deforestation and slaughter of birds?'"

among the hunters' favorite targets are the globally threatened
"Killing these birds for self- gratification or amusement
is the height of insensitivity." wrote Senator Miguel Zubiri.

"This is about conservation … as well as biodiversity, natural heritage, legacy and ecological balance," wrote Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri. "No endangered species should be hunted or captured except for research or conservation through breeding in captivity."

Zubiri authored the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act (RA 9147). He heads the Philippine Deer Foundation and is executive director of the Philippine Cockatoo Conservation program.

"On top of penalizing poachers, we must stop massive destruction of their habitats," Zubiri wrote. "Killing these birds for self- gratification or amusement is the height of insensitivity."

A debate about hunting morality is futile, Yeb Sano of Wild Birds Club e-mailed. The law (RA 9147) is clear: Killing of any wildlife is illegal save for unmistakable exceptions, such as for use in authorized research or by indigenous communities in their religious rituals and those infected with contagious diseases. He adds:

"Anybody who hunts or kills wildlife that are neither endangered nor threatened still faces legal sanctions. . . For critical species, the penalty is 6 to 12 years imprisonment, and/or a fine from P100,000 to P1 million.

"Let's not belabor the point using such terms as `responsible hunting.' At this crucial era in history, every wildlife species is an endangered species."

We should "rise from name-calling into closer inspection of empirical and anecdotal data," a founding member of the (Wild Bird Club of the Philippines), Mads Bajarias, e-mailed.

The Philippine duck (Anas luzonica) is a hunter's favorite. Yet, this species' breeding cycle has not been documented. "It sounds unbelievable but no one has yet photographed a Philippine duck nest in the wild. There is little concrete data to go on."

Studies of congregatory ducks in other countries reveal a threshold number below which their populations die out. "We don't know what this number is for the Philippine duck. Until we have more data, we ought to stop the hunting of Philippine ducks," he added.

What galls about sports hunting here is that no records are kept. "The larger public does not learn anything from our so-called responsible hunters. I've lost count of the times that I have hunters claim they are `conservationist.' But science cannot proceed effectively on anecdotal evidence alone."

Thus, WBCP created a database, including a website where a "country list" where birders-after thorough checking by a Rarities Committee- submit their field observations, Bajarias said. "This record is the only credible database in the country."

Neither the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, nor Haribon Foundation, nor World Wildlife Fund keeps a country list derived from empirical data.

With this "country list," WBCP seeks to record all verifiable bird encounters, so as to gather credible and accurate data on bird densities and distributions here. This is essential in formulating conservation action.

"Perhaps this is a practice and service that WBCP can share with hunters," he concluded.