DENR Takes Custody of Chinese-Smuggled Wildlife

SEVEN VULNERABLE wildlife were turned over recently to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here after a successful operation by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) against a suspected Chinese wildlife smuggler in Clark Freeport Zone.

A report from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) disclosed that the suspect was identified as Peimin Zhang and was caught in possession of four (4) Pangolins and three (3) Palawan Cobras, which are both under the “Red List” of animals threatened with extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, inside a Mitsubishi Grandis with plate number ZHG-475 bound to Tarlac.

According to Ricardo Diaz, regional director of NBI, they received a tip from unidentified informant of the planned transport of wildlife and they immediately coordinated with the Clark Development security police.

He said that the security personnel successfully intercepted the wildlife contraband at the Manuel A. Roxas Avenue- Yokohama intersection where they found a box containing a sack of cobras and pangolins.

Ms. Peimin failed to show legal documents that will justify the transport and ownership of the wildlife species.

Upon verification from the DENR regional office, Ms. Peimin is not a holder of Certificate of Wildlife Registration, Wildlife Permit and/ or Wildlife Collectors Permit or any other Wildlife Permit.

Wildlife experts from the DENR said that Pangolin is classified as vulnerable species under the list of terrestrial threatened species stipulated in the DENR Administrative Order No. 2004-15.

It has become one of the most illegally traded animals in Southeast Asia, with live pangolins fetching up to $1,000 (PhP46,000) on the black market. Its meat is valued at $300 (PhP13,800) per kilogram, while its scales are traded at a price of $3,000 (PhP 138,000) per kilogram.

A report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature stated that “China has a long history of consuming pangolin as meat and in traditional medicine”.  The report added, “Due to continual demand and the decreasing Chinese wild population, in the past few years pangolin smuggling from Southeast Asia has resulted in great declines in these producing countries’ wild populations, as well.”

“Pangolins are not endemic to Central Luzon and neither are these cobras.  It is possible that these animals may have been smuggled from Palawan, where both species are found natively”, explained Fred Sadueste, wildlife enforcement chief of DENR.

The DENR and NBI are now preparing to file criminal charges against Peimin Zhang for violation of sections 27 and 28 of Republic Act (RA) 9147 also known as the Wildlife Resources Conservation Act

Francisco E. Milla, Jr., regional director of DENR said that under the law, collection of wildlife can carry a sentence of imprisonment of six (6) months and one (1) day to one (1) year and a fine of ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00) to One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00), if inflicted or undertaken against vulnerable species.

“Pangolins by nature have no teeth, so the law has to have teeth to protect these animals. Rest assured, the DENR will continue to keep constant vigilance and ensure that our Philippine wildlife remain protected and safe”, he said.

He urged the public to report to the nearest DENR office or law enforcement agency of suspected illegal wildlife trade.

 

The confiscated cobras and pangolins will be transferred to a suitable wildlife rescue facility where they will be treated and cared for until they are fit to be released back into the wild.

 

Last year’s massive information campaign on wildlife protection and conservation by the DENR resulted in the surrender of 21 animals, consisting of reticulated pythons, long-tailed macaques, pond turtles and owls.

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