Facebook, other sites helping DENR nab wildlife traffickers, says Paje
MANILA, Philippinesw–Thanks to Facebook and other social networking sites, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was able to seize a large haul of stalactites and corals, as well as rescue endangered marine and wildlife species from traffickers.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said the series of operations 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 authorities fight the illegal wildlife trade,” said Paje, who urged the public to continue using social media to report cases of wildlife trafficking.
He assured the public the BMB would verify and investigate all photos and other valuable information shared through the Web.
Paje credited to netizens the June 25 seizure by joint teams of the DENR and National Bureau of Investigation of a large number of stalactites, corals and marine species in a buy-bust operation in Pagadian City.
Arrested in the operation was Earl Frederick Galupo, whose house in Barangay (village) Lumbia yielded over 300 various endangered marine and wildlife products, including stalactites, hawksbill turtle shells and scutes as well as assorted rare coral and giant clam species.
The BMB was alerted through social media to Galupo’s alleged sale of endangered species online. He was charged with violation of the Cave Act of 2001, the Fisheries Code of 1998, as well as the Wildlife Protection and Conservation Act.
Paje said at least five animals were rescued from their captors in three BMB operations.
Two serpent eagles were taken from a trafficker in Sta. Mesa, Manila, after a photograph of the two was posted on Facebook. A monitor lizard was rescued by the BMB in Morong, Bataan province, following a tip from concerned citizens on the same networking site. Online pictures of the goshawk and sea eagle that were shared by netizens with the BMB also led to their rescue.
Paje reminded the public that the trade and possession of wildlife without a certificate of wildlife registration or wildlife permit from the BMB was illegal under the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, adding that people should avoid buying, hunting or taking away wild animals from their natural habitat.
“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,” he said.
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 fine of P200,000.