DENR to closely watch seized birds for avian flu
- Katherine Adraneda () - February 8, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Acting Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Eleazar Quinto yesterday ordered regional officials in Davao City to keep a close watch for the deadly avian flu virus on 330 endangered animals, which authorities confiscated from an alleged Indonesian national last week.

Quinto said the bird flu scare is “very real” that the task of monitoring the entry of exotic birds into the country is “crucial.”

The seized wildlife species last Wednesday, estimated to have a total value of P3.2 million if sold in the black market, included reptiles, mammals and birds.

“All the confiscated species were traced to have been collected from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea,” Quinto said.

However, he added that Papua New Guinea shares a border with Indonesia, where four people have reportedly died of avian flu along with millions of chickens and other birds.

According to Quinto, the Bureau of Animal Industry of the Department of Agriculture is presently testing all the seized birds for the avian flu virus.

Meanwhile, Quinto said criminal cases have been filed by DENR wildlife officers in Region 11 against the alleged Indonesian national identified as Billy Kawekes before the Davao City prosecutor’s office for violation of Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001.

Aside from Kawekes, the DENR chief said Mike and Felina Artucilla, Catalino Gabrinto, Jose Marie Justan, Warren Aguilar, Roger Abria, and Menira Maulana were also named respondents.

DENR wildlife operatives, together with agents of the National Bureau of Investigation’s Southern Mindanao regional office, seized the animals in Barangay Mahayag, Bunawan district in Davao City.

Based on their inventory, the seized endangered birds included, among others, the Palm Cockatoo, valued at P150,000 each; Birds of Paradise, valued at P75,000 each; Black Lory, at P18,000 each; and Yellow Crested Cockatoo and Black Caped Lory, valued at P15,000 each.

The DENR said the seized endangered animals are now at the Davao Crocodile Park in Ma-a, Davao City for custody and safekeeping.

The Davao Crocodile Park is a wildlife facility registered with the DENR. It has an existing memorandum of agreement with the DENR as a wildlife rescue center.

Under RA 9147, existing accredited wildlife rescue centers may be used as temporary holding facilities for confiscated, abandoned and donated wildlife to ensure their welfare and well-being.

ACTING ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES SECRETARY ELEAZAR QUINTO BARANGAY MAHAYAG BILLY KAWEKES BIRDS OF PARADISE BLACK LORY BUREAU OF ANIMAL INDUSTRY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE CATALINO GABRINTO DAVAO CITY DAVAO CROCODILE PARK INDONESIA AND PAPUA NEW GUINEA WILDLIFE
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