The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is planning to go the extra mile to strengthen protective measures for the endangered animals and intensify their efforts in combating wildlife crime before it’s too late.

In celebration of World Wildlife Day 2020, DENR teamed up with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Asian Development Bank (ADB), law enforcement agencies such as the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Philippine Army, and many more to strengthen their bid to protect the country’s wildlife.

“Our endemic species face the threat of extinction if we do not intensify our law enforcement to crack down illegal wildlife trafficking and other environment crimes,” said DENR Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo, Jr. during the 7th Wildlife Enforcement Awards at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in North Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City. “We honor the valiant efforts of our enforcers who risk their lives to protect our country’s wildlife resources from poaching, trafficking and overexploitation.”

With the theme ‘Sustaining All Life on Earth,’ Adobo pointed out the need to get more people who are highly-trained in handling “science-based” evidence to get involved. He revealed that many cases filed against wildlife criminals often get dismissed due to lack of witnesses.

DENR Assistant Secretary Ricardo L. Calderon cited a certain case, where they needed a witness and and expert to identify a banned species of wood. “Wrong identification can even lead to the dismissal of the case.”

The department’s partnership with the agencies will also ensure stricter inspection of seaports and airports for illegal smuggling of animals.

Adobo explained that illegal wildlife trade can be addressed by providing alternative means of livelihood and stronger enforcement of law.

 “We are currently working with Congress to establish an environmental protection and enforcement bureau that will provide the DENR stronger powers and full authority to police wildlife traffickers, illegal loggers, and other environmental criminals,” he added.

DENR has requested the Congress to pass proposed amendments to RA 9147 or the act of providing for the conservation and protection of wildlife resources and their habitats. A Joint Declaration Against Wildlife Crime also welcomes the inclusion of violations in the list of predicate crimes to money laundering, consistent with the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001.

USAID also launched WildALERT, a mobile tool that can aid DENR personnel and law enforcement partners in identifying wildlife species and reporting wildlife crimes while on the field.

DENR also included the turnover of a new x-ray machine to the National Wildlife Rescue and Researcher Center, followed by the 5th National Wildlife Quiz Bee Contest.

Over the last four years, USAID has supported DENR with enforcement, policy, research, private sector financing, behavior change communication, as well as providing advanced training programs covering wildlife crime scene investigations, advanced intelligence and investigation techniques, and wildlife identification along with improving the wildlife forensics capacity of the country.

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