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5 Nicobar pigeons to be released back to wild in Mindoro

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - The government will release back into the wild this week five Nicobar pigeons (Caloenas nicobarica) that have been rehabilitated for the last six years in an attempt to augment wild population of the critically endangered bird, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said today.

The Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) of the DENR said the three female and two male pigeons will be released at the world-famous Apo Reef Natural Park (ARNP) in Occidental Mindoro as part of the national observance of the first-ever World Wildlife Day on Thursday.

BMB Director Theresa Mundita Lim said the Nicobar pigeons were rescued from poachers by operatives of the DENR-Region 3 in Pampanga in 2008. The birds were then admitted and rehabilitated at the Wildlife Rescue Center inside the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City, Metro Manila.

Lim said the 34-square kilometer protected area off Sablayan town in Occidental Mindoro is an ideal breeding site for the pigeons.

A native of Southeast Asia, Nicobar pigeon (locally known as Siete colores) is named for an archipelagic island chain in the eastern Indian Ocean.

The regal-looking bird, considered as one of the most beautiful of the many species of doves, is classified as "near threatened" on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and listed under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which prohibits international trade in specimens of such species.

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