By Armando Fenequito Jr.
DAVAO CITY — Operatives of National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Region 11, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 11, Mati City Police Station and the 28th Infantry Battalion seized a total of P250 million of different exotic animals on Monday afternoon.
Authorities also arrested the alleged caretakers Jomar L. Toledo, 34 and Rompas M. Lumakore 25, in a buy-bust operation held at around 4 p.m. last Monday, April 8, in Barangay Dahican in Mati, Davao Oriental.
DENR Davao said most of the animals were Indonesian birds believed to be from Papua New Guinea.
“Accordingly, the apprehended wildlife species were already at the area for about a week and that the caretakers were being paid to feed them,” DENR Davao said.
It stated that around 345 species of birds and reptiles were identified and counted by the team from Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), the DENR Regional Office and DENR Provincial Offices in Mati.
“Some of the identified species were Black Palm Cockatoos, wallabies and Echidna,” the report said.
The agency’s report stated all the seized species were temporarily given to the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office in Mati City
DENR-BMB’s Dr. Rogelio Demelletes already tagged the smuggled species and will be identified according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) category, as this will be the basis for the charges and penalties that will be imposed against the perpetrators.
CITES is an international agreement between governments and aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival to regulate the trade of wildlife animals and plants across borders and safeguard certain species from over-exploitation.