ZAMBOANGA CITY – The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic being experienced by our country has given a new focus on the conservation efforts of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 9, or the Zamboanga Peninsula.
DENR-9 Regional Executive Director Crisanta Marlene P. Rodriguez said they noted an increase in wildlife rescue and releases from different provinces across the region during this period of lockdowns and house quarantines.
Based on records from the Protected Areas Management and Biodiversity Conservation Section of the Conservation and Development Division a total of 60 individual mammals like birds, reptiles, and marine turtles were rescued from January to date.
The office also recorded 12 mortalities of rescued wildlife due to injuries sustained by the animals were so extensive and, despite medical treatment, they still succumbed to their wounds.
DENR-9 also released to their habitat 942 marine turtle hatchlings, composed of 837 Olive Ridley Turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea), and 105 Hawksbill Turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata).
One of the highlights of wildlife releases back to the wild was that of a juvenile Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) named Siocon, which was rescued recently in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte, and released after a month in Baliguian, Zamboanga del Norte
Rodriguez also noted an increase in the number of wildlife rescue, retrieval, and releases as compared to last year covering the same period.
Most of these occurred during the start of the pandemic in March up to June of this year, she said.
Even though communities were under lockdown due to the different community quarantines, DENR maintained a skeleton workforce that acted as a quick response team to deal with the enforcement of environmental laws which includes wildlife rescue and retrievals.
Rodriguez said Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act was the national law that governs the protection of the country’s wildlife resources and their habitats for sustainability.
The law prescribes fines and imprisonment for acts against wildlife such as killing, inflicting injury, destruction of their habitat, illegal trade, collecting or possession, hunting, maltreatment and illegal transport.