Forests are being burned in Palawan in search of anteaters, exotic mammals with long snouts that feed on ants, sold as aphrodisiacs or as delicacies, according to reports received by the Bayan Mo, iPatrol Mo: Ako ang Simula (BMPM).
The hunt is on in Barangay Santo Nino, Busuanga, a Bayan Patroller said in an email. The Patroller added, “Sinusunog po nila ang gubat para madali nilang mahuli ito (They burn forests to catch anteaters easier).”
The Patroller enclosed pictures of several anteaters bagged and apparently being shipped. He said he is bringing the matter to the attention of BMPM because authorities appear to have turned a blind eye on the illegal trade.
Hunting and selling of anteaters is illegal, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said.
Dr Rizza Solinas, head of the DENR’s Wildlife Rescue Center said the mammal belongs to the “vulnerable species” category. This means the animal is a notch below being considered endangered. Hunting and selling anteaters, and burning down forests are illegal acts, Solinas said.
Solinas said anteaters are possibly being sold to be served as exotic food.
Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Johnny dela Cruz confirmed the anteater trade in Palawan. He said anteaters are sold as aphrodisiacs.
Dela Cruz said authorities last week arrested and filed cases against a group accused of trying to smuggle out of the Coron Pier about 60 anteaters.
Hunting and selling animals labeled as “vulnerable” are against the Wildlife Act or Republic Act 9147. Violators may be jailed between a year and a half and six years, and fined between P30,000 to P1 million.