Around 6,894 pangolins were seized from illegal wildlife trade in the Philippines from 2018-2019, which shows a “troubling” increase in the confiscation of the critically endangered animals over the last two decades, according to the international non-government organization Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network or TRAFFIC.

TRAFFIC recently published its study “Endangered by Trade: The Ongoing Illegal Pangolin Trade in the Philippines,” which reported that about 1,154.31 kilograms of pangolin scales in Palawan had been seized in September 2019 alone.

It also included unusual rescues or “retrievals” of live pangolins found wandering the streets of Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

“There were 18 retrieval incidents, all occurring approximately 600 kilometers away from the natural range of the Philippine pangolin, Manis culionensis, which is found only in the Palawan faunal region and has the smallest range among the world’s eight pangolin species,” the study found.

From January to March this year alone, about 20 Philippine pangolins have been confiscated from a trafficker in Palawan and three more retrieval incidents of smuggled pangolins took place in Luzon, it said.

“While the rise in pangolin seizures speaks to successful enforcement action, it is also deeply alarming news for this rare animal,” TRAFFIC senior communications officer Elizabeth John said in a statemnt.

“With pressure continuing to mount, the only hope for the Philippine Pangolin is by stamping out the illegal trade through thorough investigations into poaching and trafficking cases, more prosecutions and solid convictions of traffickers,” she added.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) called for the amendment of the Republic Act 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001 last month.

Currently, the highest penalties are imposed on those guilty of killing critically endangered wildlife with a jail term of six years and one day to 12 years and/or payment of fine ranging from P100,000 to P1 million.

Hunting and trading has penalty ranging 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 wildlife.

A penalty of six months to one year imprisonment and/or P50,000 to P100,000 fine for those illegally transporting wildlife.

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– Concerned man turns over critically endangered mother and baby pangolin in Puerto Princesa
– Nearly 900,000 pangolins trafficked in Southeast Asia: Watchdog
– The pangolins of Palawan