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-)