DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Raptor researchers and conservationists in Asia called out to authorities to tighten implementation of policies and laws to protect wildlife.
Toru Yamazaki, raptor biologist and president of Asian Raptor Research and Conservation Network (ARRCN), said there is a need for Asian countries to impose stricter laws against illegal hunting of birds.
“The purpose of raptor conservation is not just to protect raptors, but also to conserve natural resources,” Yamazaki told Davao Today during the 10th Asian Raptor Research and Conservation Network international symposium on Friday, October 20, held at the Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU).
Yamazaki stressed that illegal hunting of raptors and other wild animals remains a big problem in most of Asian countries, putting about 121 species of raptors in danger.
Lack of political will
Dennis Salvador, executive director of Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF), also said these illegal acts continue to be an “on-going concern” worldwide, including the Philippines due to “lack of enforcement and political will.”
“I think we have enough laws, (but) enforcing those laws is the problem,” Salvador said.
“In many cases, many local government units have been tolerant of these cases under the guise of poverty; many of such cases have been excused. As a result of that people think that they can easily get away with it,” he added.
Salvador said raptors and wildlife in general suffer due to the lack of attention given by authorities.
He said government agencies in-charge should “shape up” and address these concerns by seriously getting on the ground, enforce the law and penalize violators.
“I don’t think that it sinks in with the leaders that Philippines is one of the richest in biodiversity. There’s a lack of understanding that all these animals and organisms and plant life are interconnected and in the end, we as people will suffer,” he said.
Yamazaki said he believes that educating the public especially in local communities where these raptors find refuge is a way to encourage to them to get involved in protecting animals and its habitat.
“If local people know its importance and its connection to the natural resources, they will be proud to protect it,” Yamazaki said.
Yamazaki hopes that the participants in the 10th ARRCN symposium will be those who will pour in efforts to intensify campaign on raptor conservation.
“Symposia are very important activity not only to share information but also to encourage each other and inspire,” he added.
In Davao, the PEF facility in Malagos gives a venue for people to learn about various species of birds and wildlife in general.
Salvador said they hope to educate the children “to understand nature and know what it will mean for them in the future.” He also urged the public to support organizations and environmental campaigns.
More raptor researchers
While there have been an increasing number of raptor researchers in Asia, Yamazaki said it is still not enough to cover and monitor all of the species. A number of species remains to have not enough information due to lack of studies conducted.
Asian countries like Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar still lack researchers.
PEF conservation administrator Rai Gomez said there are only about 10 researchers who conduct studies on raptors in the Philippines.
“The challenge in terms of campaigning and conservation work is the lack of qualified researchers and conservationists to help us do the job. We have very few people who are trained to undertake this challenge,” Salvador added.
Salvador said there should be partnerships with academic institutions to ignite the interest of researchers especially among students.
“Not only qualified and sufficiently trained people to help us but we need more passionate and dedicated people who understand that this work is not just a one or two year job but a long-term undertaking that needs serious attention,” he said (davaotoday.com)