The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is holding a national conference on the use of wildlife forensics as a tool to combat animal trafficking and other wildlife crimes.

The conference, which is being held in Mandaue City from July 16 to 18, brings together government personnel involved in the enforcement of wildlife laws to keep them abreast with the latest on wildlife forensics.

Wildlife forensics is the use of technology and science to support the investigation and prosecution of a wildlife crime.

It can be used to accurately identify suspected wildlife specimens, including illegal products such as pangolin scales or ground turtle meat in powder form.

According to DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, the three-day conference aims to review the training design on wildlife forensics and criminal investigation for use in wildlife enforcement.

“The use of wildlife forensics is now being considered globally as an invaluable tool to combat illegal wildlife trafficking,” Cimatu pointed out.

The resource persons include experts from the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), Partnership for Biodiversity Conservation, and Project Wildlife.

DENR Assistant Secretary for Staff Bureaus and concurrent BMB Director Ricardo Calderon said his bureau has been working with the University of the Philippines-Institute of Biology on the application of wildlife forensics in the country.

He said the university has a program that established a reference collection of DNA barcodes of Philippine biodiversity.

“When a wildlife sample arrives in the laboratory, the biologists can compare the DNA sequence and determine its conservation category,” Calderon said.

Calderon also noted an ongoing effort to strengthen the wildlife forensics capability of the country’s law enforcers.

Joining the conference are representatives from DENR field operations offices, Forest Management Bureau, PCSD, and DENR regional offices.

Other participants include delegates from BFAR, Philippine National Police-Maritime Group and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Bureau of Customs, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine Coast Guard, Department of Justice-National Prosecution Service, Office of the Special Envoy on Transnational Crime, School for Investigation and Detective Development, Philippine Center on Transnational Crime, and the International Criminal Police Organization-Manila Bureau.#