World Wildlife Day focuses on ‘life below water’ for first time

By Catherine Teves

March 5, 2019, 6:33 pm

MANILA -- The environment department's Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) is calling on all sectors to further help conserve wildlife nationwide and protect it from illegal trade, environmental degradation and other threats.

"Humans, being the highest form of life, are tasked to protect, conserve and properly manage other forms of life," she said Tuesday at the BMB-led 2019 World Wildlife Day (WWD) celebration in Quezon City.

Loss of any plant and animal will adversely affect biodiversity and ecosystems which provide food, raw materials, protection from the elements, aesthetics and other benefits, noted BMB Director Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez.

The celebration included conferment of the Wildlife Law Enforcement Award, the official annual recognition BMB and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) bestow on parties with valuable contribution to enforcement of wildlife laws and rules.

Rodriguez, DENR Assistant Secretary Ricardo Calderon and USAID project representative Randy Vinluan led this year's awarding of 44 personnel from Bureau of Customs (14 awardees), National Bureau of Investigation (21 awardees), Philippine National Police (six awardees), Department of Agriculture (one awardee), and Cebu province (two awardees).

"Wildlife law enforcement isn't just the work of DENR but of different agencies as well," Calderon said at the event.

Multi-agency action is essential as illegal wildlife trafficking is a multi-million dollar activity involving illicit trade that transcends countries' borders, he noted.

Among achievements of this year's awardees are arrest of 15 wildlife crime perpetrators as well as confiscation of 2,214 head of various wildlife species, at least 3,400 plant pieces and about 115 kg of raw and stewed marine turtle meat with an aggregate market value of about PHP57 million, noted BMB.

The awardees' operations also led to filing of seven criminal complaints/cases against 15 crime perpetrators with one case resolved in court, BMB continued.

At least 365 men and women already received the Wildlife Law Enforcement Award in the past five years, BMB said further.

Aside from being one of the Sustainable Development Goals, 'Life below water: for people and planet' is this year's theme for the annual WWD.

It's the first time for WWD to focus on life below water, Rodriguez noted.

"The celebration underscores importance and value of marine wildlife to our day-to-day lives," she said.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing as well as other unsustainable and destructive human activities are among threats to Philippine marine species, she noted.

"Life below water now faces danger," she said.

In December 2013, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly proclaimed March 3 of every year as WWD to help raise awareness about wild animals and plants worldwide.

WWD is already the most important annual global event dedicated to wildlife, the UN said. (PNA)