Climate and Environment

Wildlife, forest crime analytic toolkit launched in Philippines

Wildlife, forest crime analytic toolkit launched in Philippines
Photo from Palawan Council for Sustainable Development shows pangolin, which is the world's most heavily trafficked mammal.
Palawan Council for Sustainable Development

MANILA, Philippines — The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has started an initiative that will analyze the country’s criminal justice mechanisms and preventive responses for addressing wildlife flora and fauna trafficking.

The environment team of the UNODC, with support from the US Embassy's  Office of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), formally launched this week the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytic Toolkit in the country.

The toolkit, which has been deployed in 12 nations, also helps develop short-, medium-, and long-term recommendations for impactful action and responses to combat wildlife and forest crime.

"Wildlife trafficking is a serious crime that is already negatively affecting the world, especially Southeast Asia. By illegally taking wildlife from their natural ecosystems and bringing them to cities for commercial purposes, we are exposing our society to risks that might be uncontrollable," acting environment chief Jim Sampulna said.

The Philippines is an important source, transit, and destination point for illegal wildlife trade. According to the Asian Development Bank, at least P50 billion is lost annually due to the illicit trade when ecological services and economic values are factored in.

Among the most traded species in the country are the Palawan pangolin, Palawan hill mynah, and Tokay gecko.

Environment advocates and officials believe that Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act is ripe for strengthening as it no longer deters perpetrators from engaging in illegal wildlife trade.

The project is part of INL's three-year, P40-million project to combat wildlife and forest crime in Southeast Asia. — Gaea Katreena Cabico



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