Park, DENR release 4 sea turtles-A A +A
Sunday, March 10, 2013
FOUR endangered sea turtles were released within a wildlife sanctuary in Olango Island, Lapu-Lapu City yesterday afternoon.
The turtles were turned over by spouses Butch and Annie Guillen, owners of BG Rainforest Park, as agreed in a technical conference with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7.
Three of the turtles are males, measuring an average of 25 centimeters long.
The only female turtle, which was smaller than the others, was injured. Parts of its flippers had been bitten by the other turtles and it had some discoloration on its neck.
Jose Layese, DENR 7 Protected Area and Wildlife Division chief, said the turtles can be monitored at the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary.
The staff of five will take turns checking on them.
“There is a high survival rate (at the site),” said Biodiversity Conservation and Wildlife Management Section chief Ariel Rica. His section works with the Protected Areas and Wildlife Division of DENR.
Wildlife that is kept in captivity suffer from several conditions, including stunted growth and diminished reproduction because of the limited space in an aquarium, he said.
After the turtles’ release, Rica said, the environment agency will monitor the park’s compliance with an action plan and will make sure they have proof that the endangered species in their possession were legally acquired.
The Guillen couple handed over the turtles to the DENR personnel yesterday morning.
In an earlier interview, Butch Guillen said the objective of the park was to serve as a venue to teach visitors about environmental conservation.
With an initial capital outlay of P5 million, the amenities of the park include an aviary, aquariums, function rooms and fish spa.
The facility hosts 104 species, according to a DENR 7 inspection report, with 15 species of mammals, 16 reptiles and 73 birds.
Twenty-four out of the 34 wildlife fauna kept in the mini-zoo are considered threatened species. Of these 24 species, five are critically endangered, 17 are endangered and two are listed as vulnerable.
The park was the subject of complaint filed before Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau Director Theresa Mundita Lim dated Oct. 31, 2012. The complainants were Anna Cabrera, Philipine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) president, and another complainant whom Lim refused to name because of the person’s “request for confidentiality.”
The complainants had alleged that the facilities for the animals were inappropriate, and that the animals were vulnerable to parasites.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 10, 2013.