TWO endangered birds were turned over Tuesday to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 11 after they were saved from a forest fire in North Cotabato.

A Philippine hawk eagle and a Rofous Night Heron, both about a year old, were rescued by residents of Barangay Sinapangan in Libungan, North Cotabato, days ago.

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Since the area has no facility to take care of the endangered birds, North Cotabato Representative Emmy Lou Taliño-Mendoza facilitated the birds' transfer to the city, DENR 11 protected areas and wildlife division Chief Nilo Rivera said.

Rivera said under DENR Administrative Order No. 2004-15, both birds were identified to be endangered species.

Rivera said the forest fire could have started due to excessive heat or kaingin.

During the turnover, Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) Representative Raymond Mendoza stood in for his wife, Emmy Lou.

"We appreciate the efforts of residents from Barangay Sinapangan for not choosing to sell or kill the birds," said Raymond Mendoza adding that his wife would have wanted to personally hand over the birds had she not been called for an urgent meeting in Manila.

Rivera said the birds would be housed at the Davao Crocodile Park, which is a registered wildlife facility of the DENR.

Rivera said under Section 32 of the Republic Act (RA) 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001, existing accredited WRCs are recognized as temporary holding facilities until such time that the regional WRC shall have been established.

"We may enter into a memorandum of agreement with other government and private institutions," Rivera said.

Last February 3, a total of 330 endangered birds, reptiles and mammals valued at P3.2 million were seized by joint operatives of DENR 11 and the National Bureau of Investigation, Southern Mindanao Regional Office (NBI-SEMRO) in Barangay Mahayag, Bunawan, this city.

As cases are now in court, Rivera refused to comment on what probable penalties faced by the alleged perpetrators, Mike and Felina Artucilla, Catalino Gabrinto, Jose Marie Justan, Warren Aguilar, Roger Abria, Menira Maulana and Billy Kawekes, an Indonesian national.

The endangered species allegedly came from Indonesia and Papua, New Guinea.

Among the seized endangered birds are Palm Cockatoo which has a value of P150,000.00 each; Birds of Paradise valued at P75,000.00 each; Black Lory at P18,000 each; and Yellow Crested Cockatoo and Black Caped Lory at P15,000. (Jade C. Zaldivar)