After 12 days of tests, lectures, practical exercises, field observations, reviews and memorization, 53 personnel from the regional offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as well as its Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) were able to hurdle a difficult final exam last 28 August to complete the "Training on Wildlife Conservation and Management: Species Identification, Handling and Management Techniques (Session on Birds)."

The training was held from 15 to 28 August 2018 at SEARCA, UPLB, College, Laguna for the environment department by the BMB with funding from the USAID Protect Widlife Project and expert assistance from the UPLB Museum of Natural History (MNH). According to training lead resource person and MNH Director Dr. Juan Carlos T. Gonzalez, "the course was designed to enhance the participants' understanding and knowledge of bird diversity in the Philippines and be further trained in identifying birds through taxonomic characters."

"People tasked to monitor bird trade and conservation should know the different bird orders and families and species," Dr. Gonzalez said. Proper bird identification, Gonzalez emphasized, would be the key for wildlife protection officers to determine the habitat preferences, distribution and adaptation of bird species in their assigned working areas.

James DV. Alvarez, a museum staff who both served as resource person and field assistant during the course also said that aside from direct knowledge, additional skills were imparted to the participants.

"We were also able to introduce the use of bioacoustics for bird identification and refresh the trainees' skills and knowledge on the various field techniques used in conducting bird inventory, monitoring and research," Alvarez said.

Aside from these, the participants were given the chance to learn the use of phylogenetic analysis to identify birds based on DNA sequences, the use of feather microanatomy, and feather forensics in bird identification.

"The most important thing we have accomplished during the training was to enhance the participants' recognition of several bird species that are threatened, vulnerable and endangered," Gonzalez added.

The MNH's Dioscoro S. Rabor Wildlife Collection played a vital role since participants were able to use numerous bird specimens in practicing morphometric descriptions and measurements as well as recognizing important taxonomic characteristics to identify bird species.

"Our bird collection made it possible for the participants to see up close several bird species that may no longer be easily seen in the wild," Dr. Gonzalez said.

During the completion program, several trainees expressed their gratitude to the training team led by Dr. Gonzalez and the secretariat from the DENR-BMB. According to them, the undergoing the rigid training made them better equipped in bird identification.

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