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Philippines warns hunters

14 Jan 2008, 1553 hrs IST , AFP

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MANILA: The Philippines on Monday vowed to crack down on the killing or capture of protected species amid reports bird hunting tours are being advertised openly on the Internet.

More than 215 bird species found here are included on the World Conservation Union's "red list" of critically endangered species, and hunting them is illegal.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Joselito Atienza said he was concerned by reports that hunting expeditions were being organised and advertised openly.

"I have issued an order to (environment department) field personnel to look for or monitor the activities of bird hunters and act accordingly, in coordination with local government and police officials," Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Joselito Atienza said in a statement.

"We have a Wildlife Act aimed at conserving and protecting wildlife resources and habitats. This law explicitly prohibits the killing, collecting, hunting or possessing of wildlife, their by-products and derivatives. We must implement this," he added.

A juvenile Philippine eagle, one of the world's largest, has been restored to full health after it was shot in September 2006, and could be released later this month, the Philippine Eagle Foundation said on Monday.

The penalty for killing or destroying vulnerable wildlife species is two-four years in prison and fines of between 30,000 and 300,000 pesos ($ 739-7,389) -- or both, the department said.