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AN INDICATOR OF THRIVING FORESTS

PH pangolin trade can make Palawan a ‘lost frontier’

/ 05:31 AM May 29, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Often called the “last ecological frontier” because of its rich biodiversity, Palawan province may soon become a “lost frontier,” if threats to the Philippine pangolin remain unabated

The scaly mammal is an indicator that the Palawan forests are still thriving, said Nelson Devanadera, executive director of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD).

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“If we lose this indicator … we can be the lost frontier,” he said.

Palawan, the biggest province in the country, is home to many endemic but endangered flora and fauna, including the Philippine pangolin, one of eight species in the world.

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Most trafficked

But the high demand for its meat and scales in Asian markets, including China and Vietnam, has made the pangolin among the most trafficked mammal in the world.

Poaching, hunting and illegal trade continue to threaten its population.

Devanadera admitted that the illegal wildlife trade in the province is “alarming.”

“Criminals are working faster than us,” he said. “While we have the technology and intelligence at hand, [criminals] do much better because they consider the trade as both business and survival.”

‘Think like criminals’

The official added: “I think we should think like criminals as well and consider what’s in their mind.”

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Poverty, a major driving factor in the illegal trade, should also be addressed, Devanadera said.

“We cannot just have environmental education programs when people are hungry,” he said. “We have to show them opportunities, offer alternatives and provide them the right information.”

PCSD, Devanadera said, is currently working with the wildlife protection group Katala Foundation and the USAID’s Protect Wildlife project to study the population of the Philippine pangolin, its habitat and threats to it, to come up with policies for its conservation.

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TAGS: Nelson Devanadera, Palawan, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, pangolin trade, PDCS
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