A 36-year-old male was arrested by personnel of PNP-Anti-Cybercrime Group for online trafficking of the critically endangered Chinese Giant Salamander in Valenzuela City on February 10, 2022.

The Northern District Anti-Cybercrime Team led by PMAJ ARVIN S. CREENCIA conducted a joint operation with Manila District Anti-Cybercrime Team, PNP-Valenzuela, and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and successfully apprehended Christian Jade Ponce Nualla, a resident of Navotas City for illegal possession and trade of two Chinese Giant Salamanders. In partnership with a certain John Marvic RAMIREZ of Antipolo Rizal, the suspects offered various wildlife on different Facebook groups and utilize delivery services to ship wildlife to online buyers.

According to PLTCOL ZALDY ABELLERA, the poseur buyer and seller agreed to have two Chinese Giant Salamanders delivered by a motorcycle delivery service in Manila City. In the morning of February 10th, the seller booked a rider of Tok Tok. Upon receiving the endangered species, police personnel conducted a supervised return delivery to the suspect’s pick-up location. The suspect was arrested after receiving the package with wildlife.

The Chinese Giant Salamander is a critically endangered species and only naturally found in pristine waters in China. The international trade is regulated by the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (CITES) and it is protected under the Republic Act No. 9147 otherwise known as the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001 and is also listed as one of China’s state priority conservation species.

According to the CITES Trade Database, there is no legal importations of the said species to the Philippines. Authorities are investigating the source of the smuggled salamanders.

“With the advent of modern technology, the illegal trade of wildlife is increasingly shifting from physical markets to online platforms as traders are now taking advantage of social media for illegal activities. As such, the PNP-ACG is closely working with other agencies and civil society in implementing measures to safeguard and protect wildlife resources particularly those that are threatened with extinction”, PBGEN Robert T. RODRIGUEZ said.