By Arianne Caryl N. Casas
US EMBASSY Manila -- The internet has added a burden to the enforcement of tracking down wildlife traffickers, a top official of the Biodiversity Management Bureau-Department of Environment and Natural Resources (BMB-DENR) said.
"It's more difficult now because these are being sold in the internet, like in Facebook," BDM-DENR director Theresa Mundita S. Lim said during the 3rd US Embassy Seminar held here with the theme "US-Philippines Relations: Good for the environment today, promoting resilience for the future".
"You don't see them selling openly anymore because now you can order through the web," she said.
For a more effective enforcement in going after violators, she said they are working with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and other enforcement officials.
They also work with the local government unit.
Lim said they have once spoken with a prominent online shop, which "sometimes sells" wildlife, telling them "to check the sources first".
Lim said they also received reports that selling of wildlife in Facebook have been proliferating.
One case of online wildlife selling was caught in Lipa, Batangas where violators allegedly sold cloud rats.
"Cases were filed against them," she said.
Data of the BDB-DENR revealed that there are already 135 wildlife confiscations/seizures reported since January 2010 to August 2014.
The confiscations included 13,758 heads of various species of wild fauna, 9,813 pieces of monitor lizards, marine turtle eggs, stuffed turtles, deer horn and turtle carapace, and351.42 kilograms of pangolin scales, pangolin meat, snake meat, rhino horns and turtle scutes.
The BDM-DENR recorded three cases of illegal wildlife trade in Davao region.
Mimaropa region (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon at Palawan) has the highest number of cases of illegal wildlife trade with 48.
"Trade in wildlife and wildlife-related products is recognized as the third largest industry next to drug and weapon trafficking as the first and second, respectively," Lim said.
She said wildlife trafficking has "estimated global scale worth billions of dollars and involving hundreds of millions of plants and animals every year".
In Southeast Asia, she said the illegal wildlife trade is estimated at least $8 billion to $10 billion a year.