On World Env’t Day, Legarda Calls On Gov’t To Address Rampant Illegal Wildlife Trade

June 4, 2016

In observance of World Environment Day on June 5, Senator Loren Legarda has called on the government to step up its efforts to combat rampant wildlife smuggling.


Legarda is supporting the United Nations’ call to fight illegal trade in wildlife, which threatens endemic Philippine species and could lead to biodiversity loss.


The focal theme for World Environment Day 2016 is “Go Wild For Life: Zero Tolerance for the Illegal Wildlife Trade,” which, according to the UN, erodes Earth’s precious biodiversity, robbing us of our natural heritage and driving species to the brink of extinction.


In line with this, Legarda has expressed alarm over reports that some areas in southern Philippines are still being used as entry or transshipment points for illegal trade of wildlife species such as exotic birds, cats, seahorses, tortoises and marine turtles.


According to the Philippine Center for Terrestrial and Aquatic Research (PCTAR), the multibillion-dollar black market continues to flourish globally, with the Philippines becoming a major player particularly in the trade of amphibians and reptiles.


The Philippine forest turtle endemic to Palawan is listed as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. In June 2015, at least 3,900 of these freshwater turtles were recovered from a warehouse in Bataraza town in Palawan, the biggest haul of wildlife in recent years.


“The full force of the law must be applied on all wildlife smugglers. There can be no excuses in not doing enough to stop the trade in endangered flora and fauna,” she said, urging the authorities to crack down on pet shops that sell endangered animals and guard all our ports and gateways.


Legarda also said that addressing climate change is very important in preserving wildlife species, noting that 30% of species would be at risk of extinction due to the warming climate.


“The Philippines is a mega diverse country, but it is also one of the world’s top biodiversity hotspots, with a large number of species either endangered or threatened of extinction. There needs to be stronger convergence among government agencies and local government units and collaboration with the private sector, civil society and citizens to protect our wildlife species,” Legarda concluded.