Indonesian gov’t to repatriate smuggled endangered animals seized in Mati

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 14 July) – The Indonesian Consulate General Davao is scheduled to repatriate 98 smuggled endangered exotic animals back to Indonesia on July 21, more than a year after they were confiscated during a raid in Mati City, Davao Oriental.

The Indonesian Consulate in Davao City. Photo courtesy of Google Street View

Geovani Mocodompis, the consulate’s Information and Socio-Cultural Affairs staff, said in an interview on Sunday that the remaining animals were the only ones that survived among 450 seized in a joint operation conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippine Operations Group Ivory and Illegal Wildlife Trade, and National Bureau of Investigation-Environmental Crime Division April 8 last year.

He said several animals died due to stress.

Mocodompis added the repatriation was originally scheduled last March 27, but it was postponed due to the declaration of the state of public health emergency amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in the country.

Last July 1, Indonesian officials led by Consul General Dicky Fabrian and those from their Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Indonesian Embassy in Manila held a virtual meeting with their counterparts from DENR-Davao and Biodiversity Management Bureau-Manila to finalize the repatriation of the endangered animals from Davao to Manado by sea.

He said the shipping of the exotic animals, which included black palm cockatoos and wallabies, would be paid for by the Indonesian government.

A month after the raid, the exotic animals were transported from Mati City to the Davao Crocodile Park, Inc. in Davao City “for further observation, care, and management.”

In a briefer released by the consulate, the raid last year resulted in the arrest of Joel L. Toledo and Rompas M. Lumakore, who were facing charges before the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) in Mati City for violations of Section 27(e) Wildlife Trading and (f) Illegal possession of wildlife of Republic Act 9147, also known as “Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.”

On May 3, 2019, Dr. Indra Exploitasia, Indonesia’s Director for Biodiversity Conservation, agreed to repatriate the animals back to Indonesia after being informed by authorities here of the seizure of several wild animals, smuggled from Indonesia, in compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Semiramis Bituin C. Castro, presiding judge of the MTCC in Mati City, issued an order dated October 14, 2019, granting “the repatriation of the remaining animals back to Indonesia and directed the DENR Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer to turn over the animals to the director for Biodiversity Conservation, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Government of Indonesia.”

On December 3, 2019, test results of the blood samples collected from the animals showed they tested negative for “salmonella, avian influenza, and newcastle disease.” (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)