Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu has called on wildlife officials and personnel to ensure a continued strict monitoring of the wildlife in the country amid the restrictions imposed to curtail the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Cimatu cited the sighting of a nesting sea turtle, locally called “pawikan,” in Zambales province as a proof that efforts to preserve the country’s wildlife during the pandemic have been effective.
“Even if we are faced with a difficult situation brought about by the threats of the disease, we must continue to strive to protect and preserve our endangered pawikan,” said.
According to Cimatu, observing a nesting pawikan was “enough to motivate the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to carry on with its task of protecting the environment during these uncertain times.”
The DENR’s Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Olongapo City had reported that sea turtle laying eggs were spotted at Aplaya Caarusipan Beach Resort in San Antonio town on the evening of Nov. 28.
The CENRO immediately sent a team to conduct monitoring and inspection at the site.
They were able to identify the sea turtle as an olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) classified as an endangered species under DENR Administrative Order 2019-09 or the Updated National List of Threatened Philippine Fauna and their Categories.
Olongapo City CENR Officer Roger Encarnacion said the nesting site, which is just in front of the beach resort, was safe from possible destruction from tide.
He noted that there was no need to relocate the nest to a safer place.
But as a precautionary measure, Encarnacion said multiple fences made from nets were placed to protect the eggs from possible predators.
He said the CENRO will regularly monitor the turtle eggs to protect them from poachers and illegal wildlife traders.
He added that they will conduct weekly information, education and communication campaign such as seminars for the concerned local government unit staff and resort employees to ensure the protection of the pawikan.