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?'"
"Killing these birds for
self- gratification or amusement
is the height of insensitivity." wrote Senator
"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
"Perhaps this is a practice and service that WBCP can share with
hunters," he concluded.