Truckload of turtles and pangolins intended for Chinese medicine trade

Dead and frozen sea and Palawan seized at a checkpoint outside Puerto Princesa City this morning. Picture courtesy of the Department for the Environment and Natural Resources.

A truck carrying dead sea turtles and pangolins has been seized at a checkpoint outside Puerto Princesa City in Palawan.

The endangered species were discovered by agents from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources this morning. It is believed they were destined for the Chinese medicine trade, as well as for meat.

Community Environment and Natural Resource Officer Elmer Garaez said they found contraband at their Santa Lourdes checkpoint at about 5.30am loaded in a truck. There were 21 frozen pangolins and 16 sea turtles.

The truck driver, Joshua A Calinog from Roxas, has been detained while charges for illegal trafficking of wildlife are prepared against him. A 38-calibre pistol was also found in his possession.

The pangolins are believed to be of the type ‘Manis Culionensis’, which are found only in Palawan. They are classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as endangered. These unique mammals are hunted for their scales, which are used for ornaments and in Chinese medicines. Their meat is also highly prized for medicinal value.

Authorities were still examining the shipment to determine the exact species of the marine turtles. All types of these marine creatures are listed as either endangered, critically endangered or vulnerable.

Mr Garaez said they had yet to determine the estimated market price of the shipment. It is believed that live sea turtles cost about 70 thousand pesos each while live pangolins sell for 100 thousand pesos each.

He added that his team were determined to stamp out the illegal trade in endangered animals. “We will conduct further investigation to find out who is the owner of this consignment. We are not joking about implementing the law,” he said.

Charges under the Republic Act 9147 also known as Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of the Philippines will be filed against the truck driver and any accomplices yet to be identified.

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