The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has vowed to continue the fight against wildlife crime as it recognized close to 100 frontline wildlife enforcement officers during the local celebration of the World Wildlife Day (WWD) last Tuesday, March 3.

Environment Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo Jr. said the DENR has never wavered in its commitment to stop illegal wildlife trade, which is “one of the most important and urgent part of our work” to protect the iconic Philippine Eagle and other endemic wildlife species that are facing threat of extinction.

“The DENR, especially the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), has been consistent in its mandate to protect the rich biodiversity of this country, and it is our commitment to not let this intensive consistency waive,” Adobo said.

At the same time, Adobo said there was no more fitting way to celebrate WWD 2020 by honoring the exemplary individuals who have been on the frontline of the fight against wildlife crime.

A total of 98 wildlife law enforcement officers from various agencies and organization—National Bureau Investigation-Environmental Crime Division (19), Bureau of Customs (21), Philippine National Police (46), 28th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (9), non-government organization (1), and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Protection Group (2)—were recognized during the Wildlife Law Enforcement Awards 2020.

The number of awardees from the PNP are broken down as follows: Manila Maritime Police Station (10), Tagaytay Component City Police Station (6), Manila Police District-Station 7 (8), Butuan City Police Station (5), PNP Aviation Security Group (4), Mati City Police Station (12), and Davao Oriental Police Office (1).

“Let it not be forgotten lest disregarded the valiant efforts of wildlife enforcers, and we see their lives to protect our wildlife resources on poaching, trafficking and overexploitation so that the future generations to come will be able to see the rich biodiversity we still enjoy today,” Adobo said.

For his part, DENR Assistant Secretary and concurrent BMB Director Ricardo Calderon said wildlife crime, including wildlife trafficking and poaching, is “a crime against nature.”

“If rape is a crime against women and chastity, if murder is a crime against persons, we should consider wildlife crime as a crime against nature,” Calderon said.

“A crime against nature is a crime against human lives,” he added.

Every year, during WWD, the DENR—through the BMB—confers recognition to its partners who have valuable contributions in the enforcement of wildlife laws, rules and regulations.

Since its inception in 2015, a total of 422 men and women, who defended the voiceless wildlife species against illegal wildlife traders, have been recognized by the DENR.

WWD is celebrated every March 3 to mark the day the landmark Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was adopted in 1973. This year’s theme was “Sustaining all life on earth.”

The annual celebration, which started in 2014 following the declaration by the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 20, 2013, aims to raise awareness of”endangered animal and plant species, and ways to fight against wildlife crime.

The Philippines joins the global celebration as part of its commitment to the CITES, an international agreement to regulate worldwide commercial trade in animal and plant species. ###