Manila-bound wildlife shipment intercepted
BUTUAN CITY, Agusan del Norte, Philippines — Environment officials have determined that a wildlife shipment intercepted by policemen in Tandag City on Sunday consisted of animals not endemic to Mindanao, suggesting these were smuggled into the country.
The 337 animals — mostly birds like cockatoos, parrots, hornbills and cassowary and a few reptiles and marsupials — were believed to have been trafficked from Indonesia and New Guinea.
Twenty-four of them died while being transported in tight cages.
Caraga police intercepted the animals while these were being transported in cages by land to Metro Manila in two high-end vehicles.
Lt. Col. Christian Rafols II, regional police spokesperson, said three suspects told investigators that the animals came from Mati City, Davao Oriental province, and were bound for Pasay City.
On Monday, personnel from the Tandag City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) conducted an inventory of the animals and found 14 species.
“None … are from the Philippines,” said the Cenro’s Ruel Efren.
Its findings, Efren said, were confirmed by the Biodiversity Management Bureau, an agency under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in Quezon City, suggesting that the animals were trafficked from Indonesia and New Guinea, where they were endemic.
Among the rescued species were the southern crowned-pigeon (Goura scheepmakeri), sulphur-crested cockatoo (Cacatua galerita), black palm cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus), Great-billed parrot (Tanygnathus megalorynchos), black lory (Chalcopsitta atra), eclectus parrot (Eclectus roratus), coconut lorikeet (Trichoglossus haematodus) and D’Albertis python (Bothrochilus albertisii).
Others that are yet to be accurately classified are a wallaby, blue-tongue skink, imperial pigeons, hornbills, cassowary and monitor lizards.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the animals are found on the Solomon Islands, parts of Indonesia, and New Guinea. The D’Albertis python, for instance, is endemic to New Guinea.
On Monday, a case was filed against the suspected traffickers, identified as Dante Toledo, Joel C. Demoral and Jory C. Demoral, at the Tandag city prosecutor’s office for illegal transport of wildlife under Republic Act No. 9147.
Mindanao has become a transshipment point for wildlife from Indonesia and neighboring countries.
On April 8, around 450 animals with an estimated value of P50 million in the local black market were seized by authorities in Mati City, Davao Oriental.
These consisted of different species of endangered birds, lizards and mammals that were poached from the jungles of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
Illegal wildlife trade is big business in the Philippines.
The value of the trade in the country is about P50 billion every year, according to Theresa Mundita Lim, executive director of the Asean Centre for Biodiversity.
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