CEBU CITY—The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Central Visayas (DENR-7) is alarmed at the rising trend of illegal collecting, gathering and trading of endemic and threatened wildlife plants amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
DENR-7 Regional Director Paquito Melicor has warned the public, and reiterated his call for them to immediately report illegal poachers and collectors of wildlife, whether plants or animals to the nearest DENR office or the local government units.
Because of the economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic, communities in rural areas have resorted to poaching of wild plants as alternative source of income and have them sold to interested buyers.
“Cutting, collecting and gathering wild plants in the forest is a violation of Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act,” Melicor added. Under RA 9147, the penalty depends not only on the act committed but also on the conservation status of the wildlife.
The DENR is responsible for the protection of wildlife from poaching and illegal commercialization, and while DENR wildlife enforcement officers are working closely with partner enforcement agencies regionwide, they also seek the help of the public to tip or report violators in their respective areas, Melicor said.
Melicor also said that DENR-7 Wildlife Enforcement Officers under the monitoring units in seaports and airports, and all the deputized wildlife enforcement officers in the four provinces in Central Visayas were also directed to intensify monitoring and surveillance activities.
He reminded everyone that collection and trade of threatened species are prohibited unless such acts are covered by a permit issued by the DENR. “Please help us protect our wildlife by reporting to us and not patronizing these illegal activities,” Melicor added.
The increasing demand of unattended and unregulated trade of wild flora/wild plants in the market results to the detriment of the number of endemic and threatened wildlife plants in our forests or loss of biodiversity, he bared.
For hunting and trading, the penalty ranges from two to four years of imprisonment and/or fine of P30,000 to P300,000 for hunting and P5,000 to P300,000 for trading of wildlife. For the mere transport of wildlife, the penalty is six months to one-year imprisonment and/or P50,000 to P100,000 fine, Melicor said.
To report wildlife related crimes, please contact the DENR- Community Environment Offices nearest you through the following numbers: CENRO Cebu City – 254-2565; CENRO Argao – 367-7387; CENRO Tagbilaran City – (038) 412-1026; CENRO Talibon – (038) 416-0156; CENRO Dumaguete City – (035) 422-4367; CENRO Ayungon – (038) 404-0829; PENRO Siquijor (035) 377-2419.