Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said that the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will not stop the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) from pursuing individuals involved in the illegal wildlife trade and upholding the country’s ecological integrity.
In a statement, Cimatu said that the department will not let its guard down against illegal traders who may have taken advantage of the current health crisis to allow illicit activities to proliferate.
“We will not be complacent even in today’s worst global humanitarian crisis. We assure the public that the DENR would not cease in going after illegal wildlife trade criminals, especially those who have seized the opportunity to take advantage of the crisis through wildlife trafficking,” he added.
Cimatu said that the DENR wildlife enforcers, similar to the COVID-19 frontliners in health and security, are committed to continue with their public service and duty to protect the country’s natural resources.
He lauded the wildlife enforcers who continue to coordinate with the DENR’s partner agencies such as the Bureau of Customs and the National Bureau of Investigation to fight illegal wildlife trade.
Last month, the Enforcement Division of DENR National Capital Region successfully rescued a Philippine pangolin (Manis culionensis) in Quiapo, Manila, which was brought to the Wildlife Rescue Center of the Biodiversity Management Bureau in Quezon City for proper medical treatment and care.
The Philippine pangolin, which was implicated by some scientists as the source of the COVID-19 virus, is endemic in Palawan province and listed as “critically endangered species” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is also believed to have healing properties that can be used for traditional medicine and cuisine, making the scaly animal a target for illegal wildlife trade in East Asia.