Hundreds of wild animals being sold on Facebook recovered in Bacolod
BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Hundreds of wild animals were recovered in an operation to entrap poachers at Barangay Alijis in this city on Friday, June 5.
Police identified the 3 poachers as Ramil Cabale, 45; Ruzzel Taghoy, 27; and Dexter Belleza, 36, all from Barangay Minoyan in neighboring Murcia town.
The suspects were captured after they sold the 300 wild animals to a poseur-buyer of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Bacolod for P150,000.
In the police report, the suspects failed to show documents authorizing them to possess or sell the said animals.
The animals are believed to have been collected from Mount Kanlaon Natural Park.
Joan Gerangaya, head of Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Bago City, said a concerned citizen tipped off the police after seeing the men selling wild animals in a secret buy-and-sell group on Facebook.
Gerangaya said the case is still being investigated, adding that they have yet to determine the suspects' financier, as well as their clients.
Among the wildlife recovered were Asian palm civets, Philippine orange tarantulas, assorted centipedes and millipedes, Philippine sailfin lizards, Negros forest dragons (geckos), and North Philippine temple pit vipers.
Five of the animals were dead upon retrieval, while 7 lizards died on the day of their release. They were properly buried at the CENRO Bago grounds.
Peace John Panaguiton, public information officer of CENRO-Bago, said that among the recovered animals, Philippine sailfin lizards were considered a vulnerable species.
He said the animals were kept in plastic bottles and sacks when the suspects transported them from Murcia to Bacolod, where they met with the police agents for the trade.
The animals were stressed, he said, adding they could have been in their bottles for days, with no air circulation and possibly with no food.
On June 6, the surviving animals were released back into the wild at an undisclosed location in a protected area in Negros Occidental.
The 3 suspects will face charges for violation of the Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001.
Fines and penalties for the convicted vary, depending on whether the species are categorized as critical, endangered, or vulnerable. – Rappler.com