Illegal Wildlife Trade in the Philippines

By Nicole Bosse
Published 2019 November 5 – From November 2019 Issue

The Philippines is known as one of the 17 megabiodiverse countries in the world and is home to over 52,177 described species, half of which are endemic and can thus be found only in the country (The World Bonk 2018). However, it is also considered to be a biodiversity hotspot, meaning its species face a number of threats brought about by overexploitation, habitat destruction, pollution, and other similar causes (Teves 2019). 

The Illegal Wildlife Trade is considered to be one of the main factors contributing to the decline of wildlife number populations (Canlas et al. 2017). Despite the many regulations and laws offering protection to wildlife in the country, the illegal Wildlife Trade still continues to be a pressing issue today. Roughly Php 50 billion a year is lost to the trade in terms of the market value of the traded wildlife, their various roles in ecosystems, habitat damage that occurs during poaching, as well as potential losses in ecotourism profits (Enano 2019). Furthermore, the rise of online platforms and social media has made the illegal Wildlife Trade much more accessible to different buyers as opposed to the usual physical markets.

The top eight most illegally traded species in the country are the Philippine forest turtle (Siebenrockiella leytensis), Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), Southeast Asian box turtle (Couro amboinensis), Asian leaf turtle (Cyclemis dentata), Palawan pangolin (Manis culionensis), Blue-naped parrot (Tonygnathus lucionensis), Hill mynah (Gracula religioso), and the Tokay Gecko (Gekko gecko). Three of these are endemic, and a large number of other highly traded species are also endemic and therefore have a conservation status of critically

endangered or vulnerable. Major pooching sites include municipalities in Palawan such as Coron, El Nido, also

and Taytay, while some major destination sites of the traded species diversity include Metro Manila, Davao City, meaning and Cebu City (The World Bank 2018). 

Around 110 million Filipinos rely on about by natural resources and ecosystems for  their livelihoods, which is why destruction properly maintaining wildlife habitats and their populations is vital in making sure ecosystems can function properly and healthily (Enano 2019).

Recent efforts have been made to address the illegal Wildlife Trade, such as the 10-year national Wildlife Law Enforcement Action Plan 2018-2028 (The World Bank 2018). However, further improvements in terms of enforcement of laws, education, and awareness, and putting a stop to corruption is necessary to truly tackle the problem of the illegal Wildlife Trade


Canlas CP, Sy EY, Chng S. 2017. A rapid survey of online trade in live birds and reptiles in the Philippines. TRAFFIC Bulletin. 29(2): 58-63. 

Enano JO. 2019. PH losing P50 B a year to illegal wildlife trade. Inquirer (Internet] [cited 2019 Oct 25]. Available from: 

Teves C. 2019. Report wildlife trafficking: DENR. Philippine News Agency (Internet] [cited 2019 Oct 25). Available from: 

The World Bank. 2018. Addressing the illegal wildlife trade in the Philippines. [cited 2019 Oct 25). Available from: illegal-Wildlife-trade-brochure-ADBDENR18Novfor WEB.pdf

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