Manila, Philippines – The Philippines on Thursday accepted custody of five Philippine sailfin lizards that were smuggled into Hong Kong earlier this year.
Officials of the National Wildlife Research and Rescue Center (NWRRC) of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PWB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the lizards arrived on board Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight PR 319 at 3:30 p.m.
DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said that the repatriation of the five reptiles is an affirmation of Hong Kong’s support to Philippine wildlife conservation.
“Their government has a high regard for our own domestic wildlife policy, knowing that the Philippines has a highly diverse flora and fauna,” he said.
Paje added that the Philippine sailfin lizard, locally known as “ibid,” is endemic to the Philippines and is classified “vulnerable” under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
The lizards were among the wild animals smuggled to Hong Kong on February 8, 2012 by a foreigner identified as Zhang Wenwei on board a Cebu Pacific flight. (Marvyn N. Benaning)