The University of the Philippines Diliman Lagoon is normally a source of delight for Amado and me, as we fumble to take pictures of kingfishers, parrots, waterhens and more there. We like that it’s not always easy; wildlife needs to stay wild for their sake. Today at 2 pm, however, we were horrified to witness a killing. Three men had been combing the area, collecting crabs, fish, and what they might consider edible. We saw one of the men violently hit something in the water. The sound traveled enough for us to go running, expecting the worst. They held up in pride the elusive Black Bittern (Ixobrychus flavicollis) of U.P. Diliman. Lifeless. Plucked like it was theirs for the taking. Mads tells me that this is an extremely difficult species to find in the campus (status: uncommon) and it was killed just like that. This isn’t a witchhunt. This isn’t about running after the men. Clearly, the men did not feel they were breaking any law. This is an appeal for clarity on what is allowed. If there was an uproar months back on the cutting of sunflowers along the University Avenue, surely, we can’t only be a handful feeling this strongly about enforcing No Hunting within campus? We talk enough about campuses being among the city’s dwindling green spaces, and how these have become “avian sanctuaries” (regardless of whether this is on paper or not). We need to respect birdlife, wildlife, life. And we just happened to be there. If you find yourselves in the same situation, will you please flag a U.P. authority? And, if you feel safe about doing so, take a picture. (We later showed our photos to the U.P. Police and pointed them to the site.) As the men waded into the lagoon, we feared for the White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus) and its chicks (which we haven’t seen in a while). Our guess is that they’ve been taken much earlier. I am not ashamed to say that I cried in the car.

Source: Lu-Ann Fuentes-Bajarias Facebook

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