Endangered Species

MANILA, Philippines - The THE Philippines is blessed with abundant flora and fauna, many of which are endemic to the country. The animals are usually the target of poachers, hunters, collectors, hobbyists, and those ignorant of their true value, who simply catch them for food.

More than 40 species of these animals are now declared ''critically endangered'' and thus requiring vigilance from authorities to prevent their decimation.

To belong to the category of ''critically endangered,'' a particular species must not have more than 5,000 surviving members.

Since the government and various organizations worldwide had gone on a campaign to prevent catching these dwindling animals without permit, poaching has become the main culprit of concern.

Poaching is defined as the illegal taking of wild plants or animals, either from government or private lands.

Violations of hunting laws and regulations are normally punishable by law and, collectively, such violations are known as poaching.

Today, poaching is illegal because the object of the hunt belongs to any of the following categories: It is in breeding season, in private lands, illegally obtained, being sold for profit, using bait considered inhumane, protected by law, the use of illegal means such as hunting from a moving vehicle or aircraft, the plant or animal is listed as endangered, or tagged by a researcher.

Only wild animals can be poached. Stealing or killing domestic animals is considered theft, or cattle rustling.

Many national and international actions have been taken against certain kinds of poaching and hunting. The Philippines has more than 400 endangered animals, all of which are illegal to poach, according to Wikipedia.

At the top of the list of critically endangered Philippine animals are Rufous-headed hornbill (Aceros waldeni), Red-vented cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia), Philippine crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis), Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), Philippine forest turtle (Siebenrockiella leytensis), Knifetooth sawfish (Anoxypristis cuspidate), Tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis), and Black-hooded Coucal (Centropus steerii).

Also Bushy-tailed Cloud Rat ( Dinagat Crateromys), Ilin Island cloudrunner (Crateromys Paulus), Philippine bare-back fruit bat (Dobsonia chapmani), Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate), Negros Bleeding-heart (Gallicolumba keayi), Sulu Bleeding-heart (Gallicolumba menagei), Mindoro Bleeding-heart (Gallicolumba platenae), Ross' Wolf Snake (Lycodon chrysoprateros), Irrawaddy Dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), Isabela Oriole (Oriolus isabellae), Dwarf pygmy goby (Pandaka pygmaea), Largetooth Sawfish (Pristis microdon), Visayan Warty Pig (Sus cebifrons), and Panay giant bat (Acerodon Lucifer). This bat, like other animals in the list, formerly endemic to Panay was declared extinct in 1996.

The Philippine forest turtle or Palawan turtle gained attention recently when about 20 of these tiny animals, out of 36 turtles, were returned, for the first time, by Hong Kong authorities to the Philippines. Hopefully, this new attitude of vigilance and repatriation to their sources of origin will discourage smuggling of flora and fauna that are unique to our environment.