Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has lauded concerned citizens who continue to rescue and turn over wildlife species to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) despite the limitations of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Let not this pandemic hinder us from helping and rescuing wildlife because this will help maintain the balance in our ecosystems," Cimatu said.

Cimatu explained that it is important to report sighting of abandoned or injured wildlife species in order to provide them the proper treatment and care.

"We continue to encourage the public to turn over wildlife species to us, should these animals be immobilized," he said.

The DENR chief issued the statement following the turnover of a rescued Oriental honey buzzard in Sorsogon last January 16.

According to the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) in Sorsogon, the discovery of the wild bird in Barangay Caburacan in Castilla town was reported to them by a local, Romeo Ibañez, on January 15.

Ibañez said the bird appeared to be struggling to fly when it was found by his brother.

Due to the bird’s condition, Ibañez sought the assistance of Jeson Libdan, a member of the Makati Eagles Club, who referred him to DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda.

Antiporda immediately coordinated with PENR Officer Tito Migo to rescue the raptor. Personnel and wildlife handlers from the PENRO then personally went to the residence of Ibañez to retrieve the bird.

The rescued Oriental honey buzzard (Pernis ptilorhynchus) has been transported to the Irosin Temporary Wildlife Rescue Center at Barangay Patag, Irosin, Sorsogon for proper treatment and care before it can be released back to the wild.

Also commonly known as crested honey buzzard, the raptor is currently listed as Other Wildlife Species under DENR Administrative Order No. 2019-09, which means the bird species is "not categorized as threatened."

DENR-Bicol Regional Executive Director Antonio A. Abawag echoed Cimatu’s appeal to the public to report wild animals that need to be rescued to proper authorities for proper handling and release to its natural habitat.

"Owing to the continuous information, education, and communication (IEC) campaigns being conducted by the DENR, there has been a steady increase in the number of public turnover of wildlife species to our field offices," Abawag said. ###