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Prompt action saves an injured hawksbill turtle

- Benny G. Enriquez () - January 28, 2007 - 12:00am
The private sector and a number of government agencies set up recently an intensive care unit (ICU) on the Island Garden City of Samal (IGaCoS) in the Davao Gulf to save an injured hawksbill turtle (Eretmochleys imbricate) which suffered severe head injuries, particularly in the outer cranium area.

The injured hawksbill underwent close monitoring and special medical treatment starting Dec. 28 in a special facility set up by the local government of IGaCos. It was released on Jan. 25.

Records show that at about dawn last Dec. 28, Jerry Bajo, a fisherman from Barangay Limao, IGaCoS, found the severely injured marine turtle bearing tag number PH536 and turned it over to the barangay officials. Through Amado Alcala, another concerned resident of the locality, the incident was reported to city administrator Cleto Bravo Gales Jr. and city veterinary office OIC Rene Ambrona. The situation was brought to the attention of Angie Viloria and Dr. Rizza Salinas of the Pawikan Conservation Program of Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (PAWB-DENR). Dr. Edoneil Sala, a veterinarian from IGACos, immediately applied first aid. After consultation with sea turtle expert Ernesto Santa Cruz, the local government installed the ICU facility.

Hawksbill turtle is included in the list of critically endangered species under the DENR Administrative Order 2004-15. It is also included in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Animals. Its decrease in number due to hunting for the distinctive "tortoise shell" led to the strict implementation of international trade ban.

Hawksbill turtles are sighted in the coastal areas of the country with confirmed nestings in Punta Dumalag in Davao City, IGaCoS, Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur, El Nido and Tubbataha Reef National Park in Palawan, Apo Reef Natural Park in Sablayan Occidental Mindoro, and Magsaysay in Misamis Oriental. They have five features that distinguish them from other sea turtles in terms of physical features, i.e.:head, number of prefrontal scales and claws, scutes and mouth.
ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER APO REEF NATURAL PARK BARANGAY LIMAO CLETO BRAVO GALES JR. CONSERVATION OF NATURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES DAVAO CITY DAVAO GULF DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES DR. EDONEIL SALA DR. RIZZA SALINAS OF THE PAWIKAN CONSERVATION PROGRAM OF PROTECTED AREAS AND WILDLIFE BUREAU EL NIDO AND TUBBATAHA REEF NATIONAL PARK
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