THE TURTLE Islands Wildlife Sanctuary Protected Area has been ordered to submit additional documentation of two wildlife species recently sighted in Tawi-Tawi.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Executive Director Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez issued the order to Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary Protected Area superintendent Minda Bairula to help experts ascertain the identity of the two wildlife species.
Rodriguez said the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic hinders her office from sending technical experts to conduct a thorough study of the animals.
Experts had initially identified the two wildlife species that were earlier spotted in Taganak Island, Tawi Tawi as Otters.
Doctor Rizza Salinas, a veterinarian of the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), said their findings based on photos and video they received indicated that these are most likely the Smooth-coated Otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) and not the Asian small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinereus).
The initial findings of Salinas was concurred by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Otter Specialist Lyca Sandrea Castro.
However, both agreed that there is still a need for more documentation, studies, and if possible, physical examination of the animal to determine its true identity.
Nevertheless, if proven correct, the presence of the otters in Turtle Islands Municipality, Tawi-Tawi will indicate a new species of wildlife in the area. (SunStar Zamboanga)