Spare the Animals

Manila Bulletin, December 6, 2003 | Go to article overview

Spare the Animals


If youve ever eaten exotic delicacies like turtles eggs or itlog ng bayawak (monitor lizard), you have broken the law, perchance unwittingly.

On the other hand, gourmands have a yen for the unusual, the more rare and exotic the better. An Associated Press wire story describes a wild meat menu of camel meat hamburger, , kangaroo tail soup, and live witchety grub (a white worm found in tree trunks that resemble hairless caterpillar), atbp.

Ethnic tribes all over the world devour insects as a source of protein (such primitive wisdom!) including green ants. We have tasted ants coated in chocolate, cricketts (kamaro) in Pampanga, and scorpions toasted crisp and serve on toast at a food festival at the Mandarin Oriental.

During a trip to South Africa, we sampled, with tremulous reluctance, wild game like crocodiles tail, stew of ostrich, wild boar, elephants paw, rabbit or other catch of the day. It is not an experience we wish to go back to.

Luckily, these are not food for everyday consumption, but there are a few restaurants in the country that actually specialize in this forbidden cuisine.

Wilma Redler, an expatriate residing in the Philippines and founder of the Feathered Friends Foundation, pointed out to me that there are laws protecting our wildlife such as Republic Act 9147, otherwise known as Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.

RA 9147 specifically places under government protection all endangered species of flora and fauna and identifies socalled critical habitats of threatened species. The law also provides conditions for the preservation of such habitats, a ban on the harvest and transport of endangered species for their protection and preservation, and captive breeding in wild farms, etc.

There are also strict provisions forbidding the sale and export of byproducts and derivatives extracted from wildlife for, for instance, medicine or other purposes.

Tasked with the implementation of RA 9147 is the Department of Environment and Natural Resources currently headed by DENR Sec. Elisea G. Gozun.

Alas, as Wilma Redler soon discovered, folks out there in the DENR are not aware of or interest in RA 9147.

Last August 26, she wrote a concerned letter to the DENR Region 3 office about an eatery featured in a Studio 23 newscast called Glorias Fastfood, located somewhere between Subic and Bataan.

According to Wilma, Glorias Fastfood was serving an exotic menu of turtle (pagong) soup, monitor lizard (bayawak), python (sawa), wild pig (baboy damo), deer (usa), and birds of the field such as grass finches (maya).

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