Authorities seized two endangered Philippine sailfin lizards that were supposed to be sold illegally in Zamboanga City, environment officials said on Monday, August 9.
The DENR said the two reptiles commanded a price of at least P50 million, and a Malaysian was supposed to buy them.
The Philippine sailfin lizards (Hydrosaurus pustulatus) are oviparous reptiles endemic to the Philippines, and have been classified “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to habitat loss, animal hunters, and exotic pet collectors. Creatures classified as vulnerable are “species considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild,” according to the WWF.
Philippine sailfin lizards are also part of the IUCN’s “Red List of Endangered Species.”
The raid in a house in Barangay Victoria on Thursday, August 5, was ordered by Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez, director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the Zamboanga Peninsula region.
A DENR team, backed by the police, carried out the raid based on a tip given by a concerned citizen who called the DENR.
Rodriguez declined to identify the house owners who claimed that the endangered lizards were merely left to them by a friend for safekeeping.
She said an investigation was ongoing and those who would be found liable by the DENR would be charged with violation of Republic Act 9147, otherwise known as the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.
The law prohibits the collection, possession, and sale of wildlife without DENR permits.
“A criminal complaint will be filed by our office against the suspect or suspects at the Office of the City Prosecutor of Zamboanga City upon termination of our investigation,” said Cidur Julsadjiri, chief of the DENR’s enforcement division in the Zamboanga Peninsula.
The lizards were taken to the Zamboanga community environment and natural resources office (Cenro), and would be released back to the wild as soon as the reptiles have been certified to be fit. – Rappler.com