Press Releases

Operatives of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) recently confiscated endangered juvenile Tarantula spiders worth P40,000, which were attempted to be smuggled through a courier service in Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga.

According to Warren Bidaure, wildlife officer of DENR Region 3, the DENR and BOC opened up a package which was sent from overseas and was erroneously declared as containing “plastic parts”.

"The package contained bunches of rubber bands concealing a plastic container and was found to be housing 31 tarantulas wrapped in individual zip-top sachets, " he said.

Eleven of the spiders were discovered to have died during transport because of the inappropriate storage while the live arachnids were transferred to appropriate containers and turned over to the DENR Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) for rehabilitation and care, he added.

Michael Lopez, development management officer of DENR Central Luzon said the species included Caribena versicolor, which is prized for its distinct coloration and Poecilotheria regalis, one of the most popular arboreal tarantulas for collectors, with a leg span sometimes exceeding seven inches, and which is classified as endangered based on DENR Administrative Order (DAO) 2019-09.

Earlier, the DENR and BOC have also seized a juvenile bearded dragon which was shipped in Clark International Airport without necessary permit and proper documentation.

Illegal importation, collection and trade of endangered wildlife is punishable by imprisonment of up to six years and a fine of up to P200,000 under Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Protection and Conservation Act.

According to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), black market for tarantula hobbyists has become a threat which, together with deforestation and loss of habitat, may lead to the extinction of the spider. (-30-)

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here warned the public against selling of wildlife through social media after operatives of the DENR and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) seized last week a juvenile Bearded dragon estimated worth over P8,000, which was found and reported by a shipping company in the Clark International Airport in Pampanga.

According to the shipping manifest, the wildlife was sent from an online pet seller based overseas to the consignee who had no import permit on record. Authorities have discovered upon opening of the shipped package that the bearded dragon had died during transport, which was shipped in a lidded plastic bowl without food, water or appropriate padding inside the container.

Paquito Moreno, executive director of DENR in Central Luzon explained that transporting and trading of wildlife without necessary permit and proper documentation is prohibited under Republic Act No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001.

“Our citizens should obtain proper permits and not disregard the regulatory processes required in importing wildlife.” Moreno advised. He also added that these laws are in place to protect the said wildlife and ensure its proper and safe transport, as well as to protect our nation’s ecosystem.

Moreno also expressed his gratitude to the Bureau of Customs and Clark International Airport for their vigilance and support against illegal wildlife trade.

“We have tightened our watch on wildlife trafficking even during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in our airports and seaports in the region, since these are potential gateways for illegal wildlife trade,” he said.

The DENR has placed Clark and Subic Freeport Zones under tight watch as their strategic locations make them irresistible to smugglers attempting to transport wildlife poached from other countries and parts of the Philippines such as Aurora and Palawan.”

Intensified wildlife protection and conservation shows that the DENR has already seized a total of 311 species of reptiles, birds and mammals since 2015.

The Asian Development Bank pegs the illegal wildlife trade in the Philippines at P50 billion a year (roughly equivalent to $1 billion). This includes the market value of wildlife and its resources, their ecological role and value, damage to habitats incurred during poaching, and loss in potential ecotourism revenues.

According to study Bearded dragon scientific Pagona vitticeps is a type of ancient lizard and native from the deserts of central Australia while the "bearded" refers to a flap of skin under the chin that they extend when disturbed and they generally grow up to 30 to 60 cm with life expectancy of 10 years. Pet enthusiasts are fond of keeping this reptile species because it is easy to maintain and has a wide variety of food diets, the study added. (-30-)

Alongside the annual celebration of the Philippine Environment Month, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here released six endangered female green sea turtles into the sea of Casiguran town in Aurora.

Merliza Torre, chief of the DENR Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Casiguran, said these green sea turtles were accidentally trapped in a fish corral owned by a local resident in Ditinagyan coastal village.

"Upon rescue, we immediately examined the turtles and found no injury incurred among them," Torre said, addding that the rescued turtles have an average carapace length of 42 centimeters.

Since the turtles were in good condition, Torre, along with other DENR personnel, and partners from the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office of Casiguran, Aurora State College of Technology and Samahang Bantay Kalikasan ng Casiguran, immediately released the turtles into the sea.

Mary Jane Aragon, forest technician of CENRO Casiguran, explained that turtles were tagged to primarily identify them as "individuals."

She added that tagging sea turtles provided information on population trends, habitat residency, movement patterns, individual growth rates, and reproductive life history, which were vital factors in marine turtle conservation.

Since January of this year, Torre reported that the DENR here has released 53 green sea turtles in the waters of Casiguran. Forty-four of these were tagged, while the other nine turtles were untagged due to immaturity.

"Our green sea turtles are important to our ecosystem. Their existence is an important indicator of a balanced and healthy marine life," Torre said, urging local residents to help the DENR in protecting marine species and other wildlife.

She likewise appealed to the public to report activities, especially illegal trade of wildlife, to the DENR.

Of the seven species of marine turtles in the world, five of them are found nesting in the coastal towns of Morong in Bataan, San Antonio in Zambales and in the coastal areas of Aurora.

Section 27 of the Republic Act 9147, also known as the "Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act," prohibits collecting, hunting and possessing of wildlife and their by products and derivatives.

Anyone found guilty of violating the wildlife law shall be imprisoned to a maximum of two years and shall be fined of up to P200,000, if inflicted against endangered species. (-30-)

Intensified anti-illegal logging operation of environment authorities on Saturday resulted in the arrest of 17 illegal loggers and the seizure of 10,000 board feet of yakal lumber flitches worth P500,000 in the Sierra Madre forests boundary of Bulacan and Nueva Ecija.

Two of the suspects were minors and all are residents of Sitio Saudi in Pias village of Gen. Tinio town, Nueva Ecija, said Dennis Vergara, head of the Community Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) based in Baliwag.

In his report, Vergara stated that the combined operatives of the DENR-CENRO; First Scout Ranger Regiment (FSSR) of the Philippine Army; the 3rd Mobile Platoon, 2nd Bulacan Provincial Mobile Force Company and Doña Remedios Trinidad (DRT) Philippine National Police (PNP) caught the suspects in the act of cutting trees in the forest cover of Sierra Madre mountain range along the boundaries of DRT, Bulacan and Gen. Tinio, Nueva Ecija.

"The raiding team also recovered a chainsaw, two-piece improvised caliber 22 riflle, a shot gun and ammunitions from the suspects," he added.

The suspects were brought and temporarily detained at DRT police custodial facility while the minors were turned over to Municipal Social Welfare Office of the same town for proper disposition.

Paquito Moreno, Jr., executive director of DENR regional office commended the efforts of the team, especially the First Scout Regiment of PA and the PNP for their support in the government's campaign to curb illegal forest activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We need to intensify our forest protection efforts because some scrupulous groups are taking advantage of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in the region," he stressed.

Earlier in Nueva, Ecija, the joint operation conducted by DENR provincial and community offices and the regional PNP yielded the seizure and apprehension of a total of 6,000 board feet of forest contraband worth P322,000.

In Tarlac, the DENR-CENRO and Philippine Airforce (PAF) based in Capas, Tarlac apprehended some 200 boardfeet of illegally source molave lumber flitches worth P15,000.

Moreno urged the public to be vigilant in reporting to the DENR any suspected illegal forest activities in their locality to save the remaining forest in the region.

The DENR and PNP are now preparing to file criminal charges against the 17 suspects in violation of the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines, Chainsaw Act or Republic Act (RA) 9175, Comprehensie Firearms and Ammunitions Regulation Act or RA 10591, Revised Penal Code, Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act or RA 11332 and the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act or RA 11469.

As the campaign on Manila Bay cleanup and rehabilitation went on full swing, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here staged the creativity and talents of students from 16 public elementary schools in Bataan in an on-the-spot watercolor painting contest that centered on upholding the importance of the environment and river systems, especially the Manila Bay.

Held on March 4 at Vista Mall in Balanga City, the competition dubbed as “Kulayan ang Manila Bay” aimed to solicit public support and to increase public awareness on ecological solid waste management and proper waste segregation, which were seen as key factors in bringing back the beauty of Manila Bay.

In his message, DENR provincial chief in Bataan Raul Mamac said youth participation played a significant role in conserving ecological integrity and making more people engaged in the mission towards a clean, healthy and garbage-free Manila Bay.

“Young as you are, we believe that you can ignite the spark towards ecological stewardship, and that your talents may encourage more youth to take part in winning our battle for a cleaner Manila Bay”, Mamac added.

Allen Buenvinida of Antonio G. Llamas Elementary School bested other participants, as he topped the competition, while Carl Eurie Buensuceso of Orani South Elementary School and Yuann Joshua Cabanilla of Mambog Elementary School won the second and third spots respectively.

Winners received cash prize and handmade trophies designed and created by Kapampangan local artist Jude Pangilinan, while other participating schools received certificates of appreciation from the DENR.

Aside from regular cleanup and social mobilization activities, said competition is among the lined-up events of the DENR in support to the Manila Bay cleanup and rehabilitation program.