Philippine authorities have discovered a huge cache of dead crocodiles and protected bird species in the house of a suspected wildlife trader.
The five juvenile saltwater crocodiles, as well as 78 Palawan hill mynahs and 12 blue-naped parrots, were believed to have been killed by the trader or his aides shortly before police and environmental officials raided the place in Manila’s Tondo slum district.
Fourteen live Philippine forest and pond turtles were also found in the home. The turtle species are considered “critically endangered”.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje denounced the unnamed suspects’ “cruelty”.
“What’s particularly alarming about this poaching incident is that there were reports that most of these endangered animals were intentionally killed to avoid detection by authorities,” Paje said in a statement.
The raid follows a tip off that a wildlife trafficker was shipping protected animals to Manila from the western Philippine island of Palawan, one of the country’s last wildlife refuges, reports AFP.
The huge hoard were to have been sold in Manila markets known for peddling wild animals as pets, according to Paje.
The Philippines “is dead serious about stopping not only the destruction of our environment but also wildlife crime,” Paje said.
Last month, authorities destroyed its stockpile of smuggled elephant tusks, becoming the first Asian country to do so as part of a global effort to stamp out illegal wildlife trade.