DENR credits social media for seizure of smuggled stalactites, corals and wildlife species
MANILA, Philippines—Through the social networking site Facebook and other social media, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was able to seize a large haul of stalactites and corals and rescue endangered marine and wildlife species from traffickers.
The series of operations, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje said, were based on photographs and information shared by netizens with the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB).
“Indeed, social media and public assistance play an increasing role in helping authority fight the illegal wildlife trade,” said Paje who urged the public to continue using the social media in reporting cases of wildlife trafficking.
He assured the public that the BMB would verify and investigate all photos and other valuable information shared through the social media.
Paje attributed to concerned netizens the June 25 seizure by joint teams of the DENR and the National Bureau of Investigation of a large number of stalactities, corals and marine species in a buy-bust operation in Pagadian City.
Arrested in the operation was Earl Frederick Galupo whose house in Barangay Lumbia yielded over 300 various endangered marine and wildlife products, including: stalactites; hawksbill turtle shells and scutes; as well as assorted pieces of rare coral and giant clam species.
The BMB was alerted through the social media of Galupo’s alleged sale of endangered species online, where he posted pictures of his goods. He was charged with violation of the Cave Act of 2001, the Fisheries Code of 1998 as well as the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Act.
Also, the DENR secretary said, at least five animals were rescued from their captors in three BMB operations.
Two serpent eagles were rescued from a trafficker in Sta. Mesa, Manila, while a goshawk and sea eagle were tied to improvised perches along a small street in Sta. Cruz, Manila. While a photograph of the two serpent eagles were posted on Facebook by their captor, online pictures of the goshawk and sea eagle were shared by netizens with the BMB. A monitor lizard was rescued by BMB men in Morong, Bataan, following a tip from concerned citizens on Facebook.
Paje has once again reminded the public that the trade and possession of wildlife species without a certificate of wildlife registration or wildlife permit from the BMB is illegal under the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, adding that animal lovers should avoid buying, hunting or taking away wild animals from their natural habitat.
He pointed out, “These animals were designed by nature to exist in their own habitat in the wild. Caring for them on your own may, in fact, be counterproductive and instead contribute to the decline of their population.”
According to Paje the illegal trade or possession of wildlife, especially endangered species, is punishable with a jail term of up to two years and a P200,000 fine.
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