The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) confiscated at least four exotic pets, including Serval cats, from a resident of an exclusive subdivision in Antipolo City during a surprise inspection held last Tuesday, May 5.

Acting on a tip-off, a team led by the DENR Biodiversity Management Bureau’s Task Force Philippine Operations Group on Ivory and Illegal Wildlife Trade or Task Force POGI, Rizal Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) Isidro Mercado and the local governments of Antipolo and Cainta, inspected the house of businessman Don Michael Perez in Filinvest East Homes and found the exotic pets—two Serval cats (Leptailurus serval), one Ducorp’s cockatoo (Cacatua ducorpsii), and one Blue-and-gold macaw (Ara ararauna).

After Perez failed to immediately present the necessary permits to justify his possession of the wild animals, the team seized the exotic pets and turned them over to the Wildlife Rescue Center of the BMB in Quezon City.

DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns and Spokesperson Benny D. Antiporda, who personally received the seized animals, commended PENRO Mercado and his team for carrying out the operation despite the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) imposed in Metro Manila and nearby provinces to contain the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“This just goes to show how serious and determined the DENR is in fighting illegal wildlife trafficking and trade that even during the ECQ, where there’s mobility restrictions, we continue and are always ready to respond to wildlife crimes and any other crimes against the environment,” Antiporda said.

Antiporda also thanked the residents of the subdivision for providing information about exotic animals being kept at the property of one of their neighbors.

“DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has kept on reminding us about the important role the public play in protecting wildlife species, particularly in reporting suspected violations of the country’s wildlife protection law,” Antiporda said.

Republic Act (RA) 9147, also known as Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, restricts the movement, ownership and trade of wildlife pets.

Owners of exotic pets have to secure special permits from the DENR, including wildlife collector’s permit and transport permit, otherwise their possession of these animals is considered illegal.

As Serval cats are listed in the Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), those who keep them as pets must also secure the “necessary CITES permits.”

Appendix II refers to species which are “not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled.”

Perez claimed the two Serval cats were sold to him by a holder of a certificate of wildlife registration, while the Ducorp’s cockatoo was bought at a pet shop in Cartimar, Pasay City and the Blue-and-gold macaw came from Birds International Inc.

Because of the ECQ, Perez was given time to present the permits to the DENR. His failure to do so will result in the filing of criminal charges against him for violating RA 9147. ###