Upon reading the news in recent months I have found myself congratulating the Philippine authorities for its strong opposition towards illegal wildlife trading. The government’s position on this serious issue appears on the face of it to be commendable.
This euphoria has since been tinged with disappointment, even suspicion. Now I’m thinking maybe all is not what it seems.
Three weeks ago I wrote to Dr. Theresa Mundita S. Lim, Director, Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau Department of Environment and Natural Resources. I asked very politely if she could provide further details concerning a shipment of three orangutans exported from the Philippines to China in mid-September 2012.
If all the paperwork was in place and there is nothing to hide, the answers to my simple questions should have been forthcoming in days if not hours. While Dr. Lim has acknowledged my enquiry and promised answers, none are forthcoming.
The answers are important because although orangutans are a fully protected species, they are still taken from the wild in Indonesia by illegal wildlife traders (criminals).
Coincidentally, during this same time frame China was busy illegally importing 130 chimpanzees and 10 gorillas from Guinea, West Africa.
We need to know if the Philippine authorities are complicit in the illegal trade of great apes and Dr. Lim will know the answer. The question now is—will Dr. Lim reveal the facts behind this suspicious shipment of orangutans?