DENR urges public to report wildlife trafficking

MANILA – Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu is encouraging the public to report incidents of wildlife trafficking around the country so that the department and law enforcers could resolve these crimes as soon as possible.

“If you know of any illegal wildlife trade, we enjoin you to inform us so we can act decisively and fast,” Cimatu urged the public at the DENR’s 2019 celebration of the annual Earth Day at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City on Wednesday.

He made the call, noting that studies indicate thousands of species are already on the brink of extinction.

The World Wide Fund for Nature reported more than 50 percent decline in the population of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles worldwide in the past 40 years.

“We will never condone illegal wildlife trade as this will definitely lead to extinction of species,” Cimatu said.

The assurance echoed Earth Day’s 2019 theme, "Protect our species", which aims to help raise awareness about the accelerating extinction rates of species worldwide, intensify species conservation efforts, and promote more species-protecting individual action, such as stopping the use of pesticide.

According to a DENR statement, the Philippines is a mega-diverse country hosting more than 52,177 described species. More than half of these species are found nowhere else on Earth.

The DENR, however, said the Philippines is considered a biodiversity hotspot as the country continues to register an “alarming” rate of species destruction due to over-exploitation, deforestation, land degradation, climate change, pollution, and other causes.

Cimatu reiterated the DENR will continue its monitoring activities nationwide to protect the species and their respective habitats.

“Vigilance is the order of the day,” he said.

Last month, the DENR conferred its Wildlife Law Enforcement Award to 44 personnel of the Bureau of Customs, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police, Department of Agriculture, and Cebu province for their respective contribution to the enforcement of wildlife-related regulations.

Among the achievements of this year's awardees are the arrest of 15 wildlife crime perpetrators, as well as the confiscation of 2,214 heads of various wildlife species, at least 3,400 plant pieces, and about 115 kg. of raw and stewed marine turtle meat with an aggregate market value of about PHP57 million.

The DENR said multi-agency action is essential as illegal wildlife trafficking is a multi-million-dollar activity involving illicit trade that transcends borders.

“We will never let our guard down against animal poachers and traffickers,” Cimatu said. (PNA)