Seminar on National and International Policies Governing Wildlife Trade

 

Atty. Crizaldy M. Barcelo, CESO III

Regional Executive Director

Department of Environment and Natural Resources

Regional Office VIII

 

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to everyone and in particular the organizers of this event and our honorable speakers for coming over. All of them have been dedicated on working with us since the beginning and they are still here today for all of us, even though they are both very busy with their responsibilities at their agencies. We truly appreciate your dedication. It is a true pleasure for me to welcome you all to the seminar on national and international policies governing wildlife trade.

 

This seminar brings together many of the key actors involved in the fight against illegal wildlife trade, and it is particularly designed for government agencies and private entities, including the transport and courier service providers manning and/or operating in air and sea ports. Most of our agencies’ overall mission is to gain a better understanding of vulnerable species and their ecological significance, applying what is learned to help further conservation efforts and habitat preservation, moreover, bring public awareness against wildlife trafficking, thus saving the magnificent creatures that share this planet with us, and instill a passion for wildlife.

 

People and cultures have relied on nature’s rich diversity of wild plants and animals for food, clothing, medicine and spiritual sustenance. Wildlife remains integral to our future through its essential role in science, technology and recreation, as well as its place in our continued heritage. Despite its intrinsic value to sustainable development and human well-being, wildlife is under threat.  The world’s wild animals and plants face many threats, including from climate change, habitat loss, poaching and illicit trafficking. Some of the world’s most charismatic species, as well as lesser-known but ecologically important plants and animals, are in immediate danger of extinction. Wildlife crime now ranks among trafficking in drugs, arms and human beings. It is often perpetrated in the most remote regions of our globalized world.

 

An international operation against wildlife trafficking and illegal trade has resulted in the recovery of thousands of live animals, wild meat, elephant ivory and more. The global efforts also resulted in the identification of nearly 1,400 suspects, with further arrests and prosecutions expected as investigations unfold. Nearly 100 countries took part in the month-long operation with the goal of exposing the international reach of traffickers. Since 2010, the denr has been successful in seizing elephant tusks, marine and forest turtles, palawan pangolins and other endangered animals from poachers and illegal wildlife traders. The denr has been implementing programs to conserve threatened species such as the philippine eagle (pithecophaga jefferyi), philippine tarsier (tarsius syrichta), marine turtles, philippine tamaraw (bubalus mindorensis), and philippine crocodile (crocodylus mindorensis).

 

Republic act 9147, or the wildlife resources conservation and protection act, defines wildlife trade as “the act of engaging in the exchange, exportation or importation, purchase or sale of wildlife, their derivatives or by-products, locally or internationally.” The denr, through the bmb, is the primary agency tasked to implement and enforce the law, which includes running after illegal wildlife traffickers and rescuing threatened wildlife.

 

Human activities pose the main threat to wildlife. We must therefore be the solution, by tackling greed, ignorance and indifference. To combat the poaching and trafficking of protected species it is essential to address both the demand and supply of illegal wildlife products through agreed goals and targets. In asia, the illegal wildlife trade is estimated at $8 billion to $10 billion a year. In the philippines, illegal wildlife trade is estimated at about php50.0m – php70.0m per year, excluding associated habitat loss/destruction, animal deaths, and supposed government revenues which could have been generated from permit issuances.

 

While the threats to wildlife are great, we can reduce them through our collective efforts. On this seminar, i urge all sectors of society to end illegal wildlife trafficking and commit to trading and using wild plants and animals sustainably and equitably. To protect this essential natural heritage for this and future generations, much more needs to be done by key actors on all continents and across sectors. These powerful expressions of determination to end these destructive crimes are now being translated into action on the ground through the collective efforts of governments, civil society and the private sector around the world. This requires stronger governance and law enforcement. Wildlife conservation is a shared responsibility. It is the fundamental duty of every citizen to protect it.

 

Social media, public assistance, and strong campaigns play an increasing role in helping authority fight the illegal wildlife trade. The philippine government is being urged to measure the value of the country’s wildlife trade — which involves the importation and exportation of wild animals and their products — in order to properly monitor a what could be a multibillion-dollar industry.

 

This calls on all stakeholders – from individuals, businesses and industry, civil society, academia and government – to use their own spheres of influence to end the illegal trade in wildlife. Only through sustained effort can we end illicit wildlife trafficking.

 

Many of the species teeter on the edge of extinction, and we need to fight back. Understanding what needs protecting is a priority. If not, we will be left explaining to future generations how we started to lose the struggle against wildlife crime under our watch.

 

Ladies and gentleman, I believe it is the joint responsibility of all participants, and not just the regulators, to promote and enforce and intensify public awareness activities, among other measures to combat wildlife trafficking in the country. It should be in practice embraced by all, as an avenue for wildlife protection, conservation, and sustainability. Let’s not be oblivious of the fact that extinction of species is irreversible and losses are permanent.

 

Let us work for a future where people and wildlife coexist in harmony. Let’s go wild for wildlife!

 

I hope this seminar will serve to broaden your perspective, on the role of governing wildlife trade. I wish you a most fruitful day with interesting and stimulating discussions and exchange of knowledge so that we can, together, envisage the future of a harmonious biodiverse nation.

 

Thank you!