The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has asked the public to stop treating wildlife as their personal property.
In his speech during the World Wildlife Day celebration, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje stressed that efforts to conserve the country’s flora and fauna will be futile if people continue to have wildlife species as pets as this defeats their important role in maintaining ecological balance and nature cycles.
Paje added that the DENR has been intensifying efforts to curb the illegal wildlife trade that smuggle usually threatened species for sale as pets, food or alternative medicine by tapping more partners in enforcing wildlife laws. This was evident in the recent seizure of illegally shipped wildlife in Palawan and Mindanao, he said.
Although the Philippines has been recognized globally for its anti-illegal wildlife trade initiatives, Paje said a hundred percent success in enforcement also means the illegal extraction of wildlife does not stop.
During the WWD celebrations held at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC) in Quezon City, Paje led the groundbreaking of the site for a life-size elephant sculpture to be constructed using fragments of ivory tusks crushed by the DENR in June last year.
He said the sculpture would symbolize the country’s continued support for the global fight against the illegal ivory trade. NAPWC is the home of the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), formerly the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau.
The celebration of WWD also saw the launching of a manual of operations for wildlife rescue centers (WRCs), which often provide housing to animals confiscated or rescued, and the signing of memoranda of agreement with Our Lady of Fatima University and the Nueva Vizcaya State University to allow their students to hold internship at the WRC of the NAPWC.
The manual contains information on relevant policies and regulations; principles on operating WRCs; facility requirements; protocol on animal acceptance; disease screening, rehabilitation and disposition of animals; and acceptance and handling of wildlife parts, by-products or derivatives turned over to a WRC.
It also contains flood preparation, animal transport, restraint, sanitation and disinfection of facilities, personnel hygiene, reporting and accountability.
Paje and BMB Director Theresa Mundita Lim opened at the NAPWC grounds a wildlife exhibit that stresses the importance of biodiversity, the country’s wildlife resources and wildlife law enforcement activities.
Last month, the Philippines, represented by DENR Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo, Jr., joined other countries in reaffirming its commitment against the illegal trade of threatened wildlife such as elephants and tigers during the London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade.
The conference was initiated by no less than Britain’s Prince Charles and Prince William, who are known wildlife and environmental advocates.