Friday, September 17, 2021

Suspected wildlife traders nabbed

TWO wildlife traders were arrested by combined operatives of the Environmental Protection and Enforcement Task Force of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and local police stationed in Baliuag, Bulacan in an entrapment operation recently.

Police Corporal Nino Gabriel, investigator at Baliuag Police Station, identified the suspects as Alvin Santos and Rendel Santos, residents of Barangay Tarcan in Baliuag town, who were arrested for illegal selling of wildlife without necessary permit from the DENR. The suspects were allegedly selling umbrella cockatoos (Cacatua alba).

According to Paquito Moreno, Jr., executive director of DENR regional office, the operation stemmed from online surveillance of an informant, who reported to environment authorities that these arrested individuals have been selling wildlife using multiple accounts on Facebook, a social media platform.

“A buy-bust operation was arranged with local police on May 3, where the DENR assets met with the wildlife traders to purchase two heads of umbrella cockatoo worth P85,000,” he said.

Moreno said the umbrella cockatoos are endemic species in Indonesia and are among the endangered species listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

According to studies, the population of the umbrella cockatoo has gone into a rapid population decline due to hunting, forest loss and continued pressure from illegal trade.

Moreno urged the public, especially netizens, to refrain from selling and buying wildlife species without necessary permits from the DENR.

He said traders have moved into online platforms to market illegally acquired wildlife, including migratory birds.

Trading, collecting, hunting, or possessing of wildlife and their by-products is illegal and punishable against wildlife law.

Dennis Vergara, chief of the DENR-Community Environment and Natural Resources based in Baliuag town, said the DENR already filed criminal charges against the suspects for violating Section 27 of the Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources and Conservation and Protection Act of 2001.

If found guilty, the suspects may be imprisoned for a maximum of two years and fined up to P200,000, he added.

The umbrella cockatoos were already turned over to DENR Biodiversity Management Bureau for proper care and rehabilitation.


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