Gov, DENR to quarantine confiscated trafficked exotic wildlife

DAVAO ORIENTAL – Governor Nelson Dayanghirang and officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have agreed to quarantine the exotic wildlife seized by the authorities on Monday as a precautionary measure to prevent the potential spread of bird disease, particularly the feared avian influenza.

Governor Dayanghirang said that the decision was made after an extensive discussion with experts from the Provincial and City Veterinarian’s Office and the DENR.

Although the birds and other exotic animals have not displayed any symptoms, authorities are still determined to take the necessary safety measures against the risk of infection that the smuggled wildlife might be potentially carrying. “The quarantine procedure is just a part of our standard precautions,” said City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) OIC Head Zaldy Lumaan, assuring the public that it should not cause any alarm.

While arrangements have already been made for the transfer of the wildlife to a more conducive environment with registered wildlife rescue facilities in Davao City, authorities have expressed their concern over the risk of spreading a potential disease during transport.

“If we allow this wildlife to be transported immediately without being subjected first to proper handling, we might risk the needless spreading of diseases such as avian influenza which if not taken into consideration might hurt and affect our poultry industry,” the governor said, adding that the rush transport of the confiscated birds could be a disaster waiting to happen. “It’s better that we preempt a potential disaster,” he added.

A team headed by Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Eric Dagmang have collected blood samples drawn from the birds and other exotic wildlife which will be sent to a laboratory in Davao City for further tests. “As of now, we will be focusing our efforts on the quarantine procedures,” he said.

CENRO Lumaan also said that his office will strictly follow the 30-day quarantine of the confiscated wildlife that are currently at the custody and safekeeping of the CENRO-Mati. “The birds and other wildlife will not be transported unless we have clearance from our experts,” he said.

Technical staff from the Crocodile Park in Davao City which is equipped with proper facilities for wildlife rescue have also been sent here to extend assistance in handling the delicate animals.

Thanking the swift actions of all key agencies, OIC-PENRO Alberto Bandiola assured the public that while they secure the animals, the safety of everyone is considered the highest priority. 

Meanwhile, Governor Dayanghirang lauded the efforts and convergence of the DENR and its divisions, the city and provincial government, the police, and the Philippine Army, who are all instrumental in the apprehension of the smugglers and in securing the animals. He said that this accomplishment is a testament of the strong collaboration of all government agencies.

He also added that this will be a warning against those behind the illegal trade that the authorities will relentlessly pursue them.

Around 450 wildlife has been confiscated in a buy-bust operation in Sitio Manggihay, Barangay Dahican in the City of Mati. Authorities said that the seized wildlife were poached from Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. Further investigations are currently ongoing.

Based on the report from the PENRO, among the seized wildlife are “seventeen species of birds, two mammals, three reptiles, and one skink. Two species were listed in the Appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). In addition, thirteen species were listed as endangered species in the Appendix 2 of the CITES while seven species were categorized as Other Wildlife Species (OWS).”

“Among the species documented were Palm Cockatoo, Red and Blue Lory, Pesquet’s Parrot, Sulfur Crested Cockatoo, Long Crested Myna, Blythe’s Hornbill, Wallaby Cassowary, Echidna, Blue-tongued Skink, and Monitor Lizards,” the report reads.

“All of the seized wildlife has an estimated value of P50 million in the international black market and P 8 million in the local market,” the report further reads.

Governor Dayanghirang further called on everyone to raise their awareness against the illegal trade of wildlife. He said that as responsible stewards of our biodiversity, people must come together to help conserve our wildlife, especially the endangered species that are speedily driven to extinction. He added that by stopping the demand for exotic pets, we also stop the unnecessary suffering of countless animals while helping in the conservation of our biodiversity. By Karen Lou Deloso/Photos by Eden JHan Licayan