THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) seized in a local market in Baliuag, Bulacan some 189 native birds worth P18,000 allegedly caught in Candaba Swamp in Pampanga.

The confiscation was made through the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) based in Baliuag, Bulacan recently.

DENR-Central Luzon Executive Director Paquito Moreno Jr. reported that a team from the Cenro-Baliuag spotted an unknown man selling 129 common moorhens or “uwis” (Gallinula chloropus) and 60 buff-barred rail or “tikling” (Gallirallus torquatus) at the Pagala local market.

“The suspect immediately ran away upon seeing the environment authorities, and the team found out that these birds are being sold in the market for only P100 for every three-piece bundle,” Moreno said.

He explained that collecting, hunting, possessing and trading wildlife, including their by-products and derivatives, are prohibited under Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001.

“We are appealing to the public to be vigilant against illegal wildlife trading and online selling to protect wildlife population and sustain ecological balance,” he said, adding that the public can immediately report any illegal wildlife activities to authorities or the nearest DENR office in their area or text or call hotline no. 0945-368-5303.

The DENR-Cenro and Philippine National Police (PNP) in Baliuag are conducting follow-up operations to identify and locate the alleged hunters and illegal wildlife traders while the 189 birds have been immediately released back in a rice field area near the boundary between Baliuag and Candaba towns.

The 32,000-hectare Candaba swamp is an important wetland area in the country as it supports an average of 7,000 migratory birds every year coming from as far as Siberia, Japan, China and New Zealand to seek wintering refuge, feeding and breeding area from October to March.

According to studies, the Common moorhen is in the “least concern” category of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species but considered endangered particularly in parts of Hawaii, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands while the buff-barred rail’s population remains abundant in Philippines and Indonesia.

It may be recalled that environment authorities arrested last October four suspected wildlife poachers for hunting 6,000 wrinkle-lipped bats (Chaerephon plicatus) worth over P90,000 in the protected area of Biak-na-Bato National Park in San Miguel town of Bulacan.