Wildlife biologist dies while on research in Mt. Apo

COTABATO CITY–A wildlife biologist died on Saturday evening while conducting research on the North Cotabato’s side of Mt. Apo, the country’s highest peak.

Supt. Ramel Hojilla, Kidapawan City police director, said James de Villa Alvarez, 27, a graduate of University of the Philippines (UP) Los Baños and a resident of Itaas Lemery, Batangas, died for still unknown reasons.

“They were on herpetofaunal research at Mt. Apo when he (Alvarez), on December 7, experienced nausea, started vomiting, and so weak,” Hojilla said over a local radio station Monday.

Herpetofauna refers to reptiles and amphibians that inhabit a given area.

Alvarez, a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Biology, led a team of UP Los Banos researchers who went up to Mt. Apo on Dec. 5.

Hojilla said the city police was unaware of the research conducted by UP Los Baños students and only learned about the activity after Kristian James Suetos, a co-researcher of the victim, reported to police that they brought down Alvarez unconscious from the peak.

The UP research team brought Alvarez down to Camp Koong of the Mt. Apo trail while waiting for Rescue 911 workers to arrive.

“It was already 11 p.m. on Dec. 7 at Lake Venado when Alvarez started difficulty in breathing until he expired on Saturday,” Hojilla said.

At 10 p.m. on Dec. 8, Alvarez’ body was brought to St. Peter Homes for post-mortem examination.

Hojilla said the victim’s parents have been officially informed. Edwin Fernandez/PNA)