The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reiterated its warning against the illegal trade of wildlife species after its operatives seized an estimated P160,000 worth of undocumented bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) at a checkpoint along Quirino Avenue in Manila on Thursday (April 22).

DENR’s Environmental Protection and Enforcement Task Force (EPETF), in coordination with the Pandacan Police Station, confiscated 16 juvenile bearded dragons from a minor who tried to ferry the reptiles aboard a motorcycle to Cartimar Market in Pasay City.

The minor failed to show any permit from the DENR.

EPETF Executive Director Nilo Tamoria said the apprehension was the result of the DENR’s efforts to link arms with law enforcement agencies to run after illegal wildlife traders.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has ordered the EPETF to intensify its apprehension activities against illegal wildlife traders, especially during the pandemic.

"We are aware that there are those in the illegal wildlife trafficking taking advantage of the pandemic, which is why we are doubly vigilant," Tamoria said.

The seized reptiles were turned over to the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau for safekeeping at the Wildlife Rescue Center facility in Quezon City.

Tamoria pointed out that the trade of captive-bred bearded dragons is regulated and can be sold as pets provided these are covered by permits issued by the DENR.

He explained that transporting and trading of wildlife without necessary permit and proper documentation is prohibited under Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001.

"Let us obey the regulatory processes required in trading wildlife species, especially those involving exotic species like the bearded dragon to protect the country’s local wildlife species and ecosystems," Tamoria said. ###