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Raided Tondo house yields dozens of dead endangered animals

MANILA, Philippines—Dozens of animals belonging to endangered species, including Palawan mynas, parrots, turtles and crocodiles, were found dead when authorities raided a house in Tondo, Manila, where they had been kept for trading, officials said on Thursday.

But the house was deserted and all the animals except for 14 pond turtles had been killed when the raiders arrived, so no arrests were made, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said.

On July 3, a team from the  DENR and the Philippine National Police, accompanied by barangay officials,  raided the house in Tondo, following a tip it was keeping “hundreds of wildlife species” to be sold in the city.

The team was headed by Environment Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo, chief of the recently formed Philippine Operations Group on Ivory and Illegal Wildlife Trade.

An informant had told the authorities that wildlife species from Palawan had been seen being loaded onto a motorboat bound for Cavite and that the animals were to be transported to Manila, said Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau director Theresa Mundita Lim.

She said no one was in the house when the raid took place, but the authorities were able to identify the alleged wildlife traffickers, and they would be charged.

The original shipment was reported to consist of 310 Palawan hill mynas, 96 blue-naped parrots, 2 Palawan bearcats, 2 leopard cats, and a Palawan otter, officials said.

The trail of the wildlife smugglers led to the house in Tondo, but the authorities confiscated only 78 Palawan Hill mynas (Gracula religiosa, or “kiyaw”), an endangered endemic species, 12 blue-naped parrots (Tanygnathus lucionensis, or “pikoy”), a vulnerable endemic species, five juvenile Indo-Pacific or saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus), an endangered non-endemic species—all of them already dead— and 14 Philippine forest or pond turtles (Siebenrockiella leytensis.

“Unfortunately, only the 14 turtles were confiscated alive,” according to a PAWB report.

The mynas, parrots and crocodiles were killed, presumably to stop the animals from making noise, the report said. “The other animals originally reported to be included in the shipment (bearcats, leopard cats and otter) were not in the house,” it added.

The confiscated animals were in the custody of the PAWB, which would keep them as evidence. The turtles, after being rehabilitated, will be returned to Palawan.

Under Republic Act 9147, or the Wildlife Act, the illegal trade of endangered species carries a penalty of up to P200,000 in fines and two years of imprisonment, while the killing of endangered species carries a penalty of up to P500,000 in fines and six years of imprisonment.

On the other hand, the killing of critically endangered species is punishable by a fine of up to P1 million and a jail term of six to 12 years.

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