The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has reiterated its appeal to the public to help rescue and protect wildlife species fleeing the wrath of Taal Volcano in Batangas province.

Endangered and endemic animals within the Taal Volcano Protected Landscape (TVPL) have migrated to communities after the country’s second most active volcano started spewing lava and huge plume of ash last week, triggering the mass evacuation of thousands of people from the area.

DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda advised the public to immediately turn over to authorities any wildlife species they see or unintentionally capture so these animals can be brought to wildlife rehabilitation centers for proper care.

“We are appealing to the members of the public to rescue and turn over to the DENR any wildlife species within the vicinity of Taal Volcano to ensure their safety,” Antiporda said.

Antiporda made the appeal after he received a rescued rufous hornbill on behalf of the DENR from Cavite Educators Lions Club member and Bacoor City resident Flor Locson, who suspected the bird she rescued came from TVPL.

Rufous hornbill (Buceros hydrocorax), locally known as kalaw, is a large species of hornbill found only in the Philippines. Its species is listed in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature as vulnerable species, which means the bird is near threatened.

Antiporda, who is also the first vice district governor of Lions Club International District 301-A2, said the government would need everyone’s help in saving the wildlife species affected by the volcanic eruption.

“We in the government cannot do this alone,” Antiporda pointed out. “We need the help of the Filipino people to save the wildlife species near the Taal volcano vicinity.”

The DENR official also reminded people “not to keep the endangered species as pets or eat them in case of food shortage as it is against the law.”

Meanwhile, DENR Assistant Secretary and concurrent Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Director Ricardo Calderon said that rescued wildlife may be turned over to the DENR field offices in Batangas, as well as in Cavite province.

“The DENR field offices in Batangas—Calaca and Lipa—are ready to receive these animals once they are rescued,” Calderon said.

“We have teams from the field offices on site that are helping in rescuing the animals in the peripheries of the area,” he added.

Apart from wildlife species, Calderon said the BMB also helps in rescuing the companion and domesticated animals that are either turned over to the owners or the local government units in the area.

As to the rescued rufous hornbill, Calderon said that upon initial checkup and assessment, the bird was “generally healthy despite being stressed.”

The hornbill is currently at the BMB’s Wildlife Rescue Center in Quezon City, where it will be rehabilitated before releasing it to the wild.

“Once the bird recovers, it can be released in the same area (TVPL) once everything is settled or in the CALABARZON area where their species are widespread,” Calderon explained.

TVPL was established by virtue of Proclamation No. 906 in 1996, pursuant to the National Integrated Protected Areas System or NIPAS Act of 1992.

It was established to protect and conserve the ecological, biological, scientific, educational and recreational features of the area, and at the same time, provide sustainable livelihood opportunities to the tenured migrants without necessarily defacing the natural features of the area. ###