DAVAO CITY -- Environment officials, along with members of National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), seized more than 300 endangered animal species worth P3.2 million in a raid in Bunawan town recently.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials said the seized endangered animals included birds, reptiles, and mammals.

They were recovered in Barangay Mahayag in Bunawan after various surveillance activities conducted by operatives of the environment agency in Southern Mindanao and NBI-Southern Mindanao Regional Office (Semro).

Among the seized endangered birds are a Palm Cockatoo that has a value of P150,000; Birds of Paradise valued at P75,000 each; Black Lory at P18,000 each; Yellow Crested Cockatoo and Black Caped Lory at P15,000 each.

The animals allegedly came from Indonesia and Papua, New Guinea and are believed to be for sale in the black market.

DENR-Southern Mindanao and NBI-Semro immediately filed a complaint before the Davao City Prosecutor’s Office against the species’ alleged keepers Mike and Felina Artucilla, Catalino Gabrinto, Jose Marie Justan, Warren Aguilar, Roger Abria, Menira Maulana, and Billy Kawekes, an Indonesian national.

The animals are now being kept at the Davao Crocodile Park in Ma-a, this city, for custody and safekeeping since the environment agency does not have a wildlife rescue center.

Davao Crocodile Park is a registered wildlife facility of the DENR. It has an existing memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the agency as wildlife rescue center.

As of Sunday, the Bureau of Animal Industry of the Department of Agriculture is conducting a test on all of the confiscated birds to make sure no one is a carrier of the deadly Bird Flu virus.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Eleazar Quinto instructed his Assistant Secretary for Field Operations in Mindanao Ernesto Adobo Jr. and Regional Executive Director Jim Sampulna to closely monitor the condition of the seized endangered species.

Quinto said the protection and conservation of the endangered species is imperative in order to maintain ecological balance and enhance biological biodiversity.

The preservation of all species is necessary for human survival. Every species is considered as an indicator of environmental health and is crucial to the functioning of the ecosystems, he said.

Sampulna thanked concerned agencies that unquestionably helped in the seizure and monitoring of the condition of the seized animals.

Sampulba said keeping the endangered species is a violation of Republic Act (RA) 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001.

The Act, he said, provides for the conservation and protection of wildlife resources and their habitats appropriating funds therefore and for other purposes.

It has the following objectives: to conserve and protect wildlife species and their habitats; to regulate the collection and trade of wildlife; to pursue with due regard to the national interest, the Philippine commitment to International Conventions, protection of wildlife and habitats; and to initiate or support scientific studies on the conservation of biological diversity. (BOT)