THE Asian Development Bank has approved a P1-million ($29,765) grant to Palawan to help address marine turtle poaching and other illegal activities in the provinces southernmost municipality of Balabac.
Governor Abraham Kahlil Mitra, in a recent press conference said the grant facility aimed to provide alternative livelihood to communities to discourage poaching and other environmentally destructive activities.
Balabac has been frequently targeted by foreign poachers, mostly Chinese, seeking marine turtles. Government enforcers involved in more recent operations to stop marine turtle poaching have observed that some members of local communities were working in cahoots with foreign poachers.
Also on Thursday, Palawan received from Hong Kong authorities a shipment of rare and critically endangered freshwater turtles and other animals highly prized in the black market pet trade which were confiscated from a travelling Chinese national the other week.
Among the cargo were 39 Philippine forest turtles, rare species found only in Palawan, 19 Mindanao water monitors, 49 Asian box turtles and a reticulated phyton.
While in previous years, Chinese turtle poachers have been arrested and detained in Palawan, recent cases showed a pattern where locals were capturing the endangered marine turtles using capital and equipment provided by Chinese buyers.
This grant will help transform those communities and wean them away from temptations to engage in illegal activities, Mitra said.
He said the ADB and the Department of Foreign Affairs signed an agreement in July to implement the grant. Balabac has also been cited by environmentalists for mangrove destruction.Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
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