Frozen Palawan Pangolin Confiscated at Checkpoint in the Philippines

Twenty-one frozen Palawan pangolins and 16 sea turtles discovered at a government checkpoint about 5:30am – on July 28, 2018 – in the Philippines near Puerto Princesa City. (Picture provided by the DENR)

Philippines – A vehicle carrying the 21 frozen Palawan Pangolins (Manis culionensis) was discovered at a government checkpoint about 5:30am – on July 28, 2018 – in the Philippines near Puerto Princesa City, according to officials at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Community Environment and Natural Resource Officer (CENRO) Elmer Garaez said, “We were told by the driver that he came from Roxas and that he was only supposed to deliver it to somebody in Puerto (Princesa City).” Garaez told news outlets that the pangolins were turned over to the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) for disposition.

Justin MillerDirector of Pangolin Conservation – said, “The consumption of pangolin meat is often used by businessmen as a desperate display of status to clients. The photographs of the confiscated pangolins provided by the DENR shows the specimens have also had their scales removed. Sadly, some people practicing traditional medicine falsely believe that pangolin scales have medical properties and use them in prepared mixtures with herbs. This is despite the pangolin scales being made of keratin, the same material as your fingernails and hair.”

Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Felizardo Cayatoc (1st from left) of the DENR-Palawan views the dead endangered pangolin and sea turtles that were confiscated from a truck driver on Saturday morning at a checkpoint in Barangay Sta. Lourdes, Puerto Princesa City. (Picture provided by the DENR)

Miller continued, “Despite an international ban on the trade of all pangolins species taking effect in January 2017, we continue to see continued demand strip the last remaining populations of pangolins from the wild in Africa in Asia. We must do more to decrease the use of pangolin products in both the Philippines and worldwide”

Palawan Pangolins (Manis culionensis) are endemic to Palawan and nearby islands in the Philippines. While first described in 1915, it was not recognized by many biologists as a distinct species until 1998. It is considered an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) Felizardo Cayatoc of the local DENR, lauded the efforts of environment enforcers who were able to block the prohibited shipment of pangolin meat and sea turtles. “They were not concealed, they’re on the back of the truck that’s just open and inside sacks. Nobody will suspect that what he’s carrying is actually banned wildlife. This checkpoint and its vigilance are effective in ensuring illegal wildlife transporting will not happen, particularly if done with the PNP,” Cayatoc said.

Sixteen frozen sea turtles were also discovered in the illegal shipment. The accused truck driver, Joshua A Calinog from Roxas, was detained pending charges for illegal trafficking of wildlife in violation of the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of the Philippines (RA 9147). A 38-calibre pistol was also found in his possession during the time of the search. Garraez said they are still investigating Calinog to provide the identity of the owner of the illegal wildlife shipment. He was alone in his truck when it was stopped by CENRO enforcers and policemen.

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