By: Anna Varona
We’ve had incidents in the past where wild animals went urban in our village. A monitor lizard taking a dip in a swimming pool, a python found by a kasambahay coiled on a car wheel, a Brahmini eagle with its talons caught in the soccer goals net and a baby owl resting on a fence were some of the reports we’ve had in the past few years.
With the village’s fertile green spaces, thousands of trees and running creeks, Ayala Alabang is a sanctuary for wild animals. The reports are often exciting and sometimes alarming. This week’s incident was both.
September 04, Tuesday early morning, residents perked up to the news of a Pangolin retrieval in District 3 over social media. At first it was mistaken for a giant rat running on a vacant lot. Upon closer inspection, they realized it was something quite unusual. They took the docile but strong animal and kept it from escaping till AAVA security arrived. A concerned neighbor informed them of its status as a critically endangered species.
AAVA made a call to Conservation International, an NGO who has been working specifically on the protection of the Palawan Pangolin. Our contact was in a seminar on CITES non-detrimental findings and as fate had it, representatives of the Wildlife Resource Division under Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) were there as well. They abandoned the training to conduct investigation and retrieve the Palawan Pangolin of Ayala Alabang.
Joined by Doc Nielsen Donato of GMA network’s show Born to be Wild, Dr. Emerson Sy (Pangolin expert) Barangay Tanod and AAVA Security, they went to Beata Street where the Pangolin allegedly came from.
The group was asked to wait. Not wasting time, BMB Dr. Bulik Demelletes Jr. scoured through garbage for signs of ownership of the Pangolin. They also searched for evidence that supported wildlife trafficking. There was a lack of pet paraphernalia to prove they were owners of the animal.
Dr. Esteven Toledo and Dr. Bulik Demelletes Jr. of the BMB were both trained on Wildlife Crime Investigation and Forensics. They are highly respected for leading successful raids against wildlife traffickers all over the Philippines. They were part of the team that discovered hundreds of frozen Pangolin meat and sea turtles in a boat crossing Tubbataha reefs.
Dr. Nielsen Donato & Dr. Esteven Toledo checking Panggoy