Chiz sounds alarm over wildlife ‘invasion’

Senator Chiz Escudero called on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and environmental groups to intervene in the reported entry of alien plant and animal species to the country which threatens the country’s delicate ecological balance.

Exotic animal and plant species which are initially used as household pets or decorations almost always invariably ends up being introduced into the country’s ecosystems which in many cases disturbs the delicate balance of the country’s rich biological environment, Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources, said.

“This is an ecological disaster waiting to happen. The entry of alien invasive species can wreak havoc on our ecosystem in a blink of an eye. We need a cooperative approach to dealing with this looming environmental crisis,” the senator added as he pledge full support for a multi-sectoral response.

The DENR had earlier called public attention to the so-called “bio-invasion” involving foreign plant and animal species.

Escudero said that the intervention of the DENR and a proactive response from non-government organizations are made more urgent with its own assessment that the entry of exotic species in the country “threaten not only the survival of local wildlife species, but also pose human health risks.”

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje earlier reported, for instance, that Chinese softshell turtles had started to ruin wildlife habitats in Central Luzon.

The Chinese softshell turtles (Pelodiscus sinensis) are impacting aquaculture and biodiversity in Pampanga, Bulacan and Bataan as they prey on bangus (milkfish) and tilapia fingerlings in fishponds, according to Paje.

The registration of wildlife species, whether for recreation, conservation or propagation, is required by Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.

The law also requires aquarium owners to surrender their exotic fish to the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) instead of throwing these into rivers and other bodies of water when they decide to extract the fishes from their aquarium.

Among the foreign species of wildlife that had posed problems for the country are the water lily, golden apple snail or golden kuhol, tilapia, and the janitor fish.