We, members of the Wild Bird
Club of the Philippines, have recently come across several
websites that demonstrate a blatant disregard for the law,
particularly the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection
Act RA # 9147.
The pictures in these websites clearly show faces of the hunters
and dead birds, some of which are considered as vulnerable
under the Red List of threatened birds of the world. The penalty
for killing or destroying vulnerable wildlife species as stated
in RA # 9147 is imprisonment of two (2) years and one (1)
day to four (4) years and/or a fine of Thirty thousand pesos
(P30,000.00) to Three hundred thousand pesos (P300,000.00).
The law specifically states further in Sec. 27 that unless
otherwise allowed in accordance with the Act, it shall be
unlawful for any person to willfully and knowingly exploit
wildlife resources and their habitats, collecting, hunting
or possessing wildlife, their by-products and derivatives.
As such, even the mere possession of these species, evidenced
by their very own pictures on their very own websites is punishable
We accept the hunting of game for food, culling (in the case
of overpopulation of certain species) and for ritual purposes,
but we fail to see how defiance of the law qualifies sports
hunters as conservationists, especially when what they proudly
display are dead birds of a vulnerable species, one that is
found nowhere else in the world and of which not enough studies
have determined the capacity to survive the loss of habitat
and other threats.
The Philippine Duck counts as one of the many birds that are
displayed on several websites as having been shot down in
numbers that horrify scientists and birders alike. It is endemic
to the Philippines and classified as vulnerable, with only
5,000 to 10,000 birds left. The majesty of these creatures
in flight, having been often seen by many a proud birder,
cannot fail to inspire. That is why the interruption of their
delicate V formation by the shots of hunters including some
members of the Philippine National Shooting Team makes us
Many hunters call themselves conservationists and we cannot
argue with the closeness to nature that hunting may inspire,
coming as it does from our very evolutionary story as a species.
But it is time to take a step back and consider our common
impact on the planet as a species. It takes more than closeness
to prey to know the current status, remaining numbers, range
and the extent of remaining habitat, conservation status and
the feeding requirements of our co-inhabitants. Conservation
is painstaking work of watching, recording, watching, comparing
and watching again, and nowhere in this process involves killing
except for the necessary type specimen.
We understand that hunters want habitat conservation as well,
for them to continue enjoying their sport. May we remind them
that the law was passed because there is precisely very little
wild habitat left in this country. In other countries, wild
habitats are kept due to the high fees charged for highly
regulated hunting activities. Hunters here know how quickly
these wild places dwindle into settlements, farms and urban
areas and this alone should be a message that unless we are
able to restore the balance, revive the wild places, hunting
should have no place in this country.
While hunting gives a certain opportunity to immerse in the
wild, the kind of conservation that this country, the hottest
of the hotspots, sorely needs is an entirely different kind.
A kind that finds out how much is left and how to save and
expand on that. Shooting at vulnerable species, posing with
them in great numbers and plastering them on websites does
not inspire confidence that the hunters claiming to be conservationists
are indeed so or that they can police their ranks to be so.
We believe that hunters are people who can be reasoned with
and if they know the score, will restrain themselves from
wiping out species. We appeal to them to find out as much
as they can in terms of their impact on remaining habitats,
breeding populations, and act with the precautionary principle
in mind. We urge them to stop all sports hunting in observance
of the law until strict regulation that can aid conservation
is proven by scientific and objective data and analysis. Self-regulation
by the hunters and high-level monitoring by an empowered and
resource-rich State may be pre-requisites to a Philippines
wherein hunting could be allowed.
Unless hunting is based on figures, unless sports hunting
revenues can pay for the conservation of sufficient wild habitat,
until we have a need to cull specific invasive or pest populations,
and until the ranks of hunters can police themselves to strictly
follow the rules, the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines cannot
accept that hunting contributes in any way to conservation.
For as long as vulnerable and endemic species whose numbers
are dwindling before our very eyes and whose habitats are
fast being taken over by development that is unfriendly to
the wild co-inhabitants of this archipelago, any form of sports
hunting should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the
We appeal to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
and to the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau to demonstrate
speedy and effective enforcement of the Wildlife Resources
Conservation and Protection Act. These are crimes against
the Filipino people and future generations in the global community
who may never know these creatures being hunted to extinction.