Palawan State University (PSU) delegates bag the first place on Planet Innovation Space for its “pangolin protection project proposal” during the Youth Sustainability Convergence in Baguio City. (Photo courtesy of Mark Roland Medriano)

The Palawan State University (PSU) delegates’ “pangolin protection” project proposal won first place on Planet Innovation Space held in Baguio City during the Youth Sustainability Convergence.

The proposed project entitled “ScaleUp: Protecting the Protective Scales of Pangolin” is a wildlife conservation initiative and income generating movement.

It was held in Baguio on the third week of August.

The delegates are Neil Christiane Buenaobra, Joshua Razen Nolsol, Muhajer Dimalna, Mark Roland Medriano, Daisery Divine Rivero, and Julius Eric Linga.

Buenaobra, a PSU petroleum-engineering student and team leader for this project proposal, told Palawan News on Tuesday that he was informed of the pangolin poaching problems in Palawan and saw it as a problem to be addressed.

“As someone who didn’t really come from Palawan, I kind of have a personal experience on being ignorant sa Palawan pangolin. Noong nag-aral na lang ako dito for Pet-Eng ko nalaman na may pangolin pala dito. Kasi as a kid I really thought na nasa Africa lang ‘to sila,” said Buenaobra.

“Then hearing some firsthand experience of other people regarding sa poaching problem dito, we really thought na it is an issue that needs attention, especially on an animal na considered to be most illegally trafficked organism on earth,” Buenaobra added.

He said they are trying to integrate the project to the tourism industry of Palawan.

He said they have promoted the advocacy in their project proposal and incorporated in it a business model that could sustain its system.

Dimalana, a second year accountancy student and one of the delegates also said Tuesday their award has a seed fund of P30,000, which was granted by United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Solution Network Youth Philippines (SDSN-YP).

Dimalna said it is his mandate being a member of PSU student government to encourage students on advocacies that promote youth responsibility.

“Katulad ng project proposal namin na ScaleUp, it is a wildlife conservation at the same time, a profit-generating movement. [Incorporated sa aming project proposal na] aside from gagawin nating forest rangers or watchers ang mga poachers, puwedeng gumawa din ang mga IPs ng mga products, mga weaved products na puwedeng print-an ng pangolin movement,” said Dimalna.

Dimalna noted that the business side of their project proposal targets the tourism industry of Palawan.

He said the business targets the tourism sector to help generate income needed to sustain their advocacy and give alternative livelihood to the former poachers in Palawan.

He said there were around seven delegations that competed in the contest, including them.

Mark Roland Medriano, a student head of PSU environmental science society told Palawan News in a separate interview that their project proposal is also aimed at raising the awareness of public regarding the Palawan pangolin.

“Karamihan kasi na nai-involve doon [sa poaching] ay mga indigenous people natin, so naisip namin, ‘Paano natin mapi-prevent or mai-stop ‘yong wildlife poaching?’ Naisip namin to cut the roots. Simula sa kumukuha hanggang sa bumibili,” said Medriano.

He reiterated making aware the public and tourists, providing job opportunities to the people vulnerable to lean on poaching for income, and a managing a business system that will sustain the advocacy, are the focus of their proposal.

Medriano said these will all be possible by tapping and partnering with necessary government and private environmental agencies.