This PCSD released photo shows one of the three Philippine pangolins that were released back into the wilds in Palawan on July 8, 2019. This scaly mammal is only one of the thousands of pangolins around the world that are poached and smuggled to feed the high demand for pangolin scales and meat in Asian markets. (Photo courtesy of PCSD)

Three Philippine pangolins (Manis culionensis) rescued from suspected wildlife smugglers from Cavite last month were released back into the wild Monday by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD).

Locally known as “balintong”, the endangered animals were released in an undisclosed location, senior PCSD staff Levita Lagrada said.

She noted that of 10 pangolins rescued on June 28, the three were the only survivors.

Photo shows two of the 10 confiscated Philippine pangolins that were carried in a van going to China Town, Manila on June 28 from Cavite. As wild creatures that thrive only in Palawan, Philippine pangolins do not do well and are less likely to survive in captivity. (Photo and text by PCSD)

They were confiscated from suspected wildlife traffickers Simforoso Salazar and Jordan Torrequimada of Calatagan, Batangas, and Victor Cabuniag of Roxas, Palawan, who were transporting them in a van headed to China Town in Manila.

The suspects were believed to have made their way to Calatagan, Batangas via Liminangcong, Taytay in northern Palawan using small boats.

Lagrada said that the incident calls for stronger cooperation among local government units (LGUs) and the PCSD Staff in implementing Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Act.

Lagrada added in the statement that there is a need for the locals to get involved in monitoring against illegal wildlife trafficking activities and in reporting them immediately to authorities.

“The whole Palawan is surrounded by waters making it prone to poachers who look for unguarded coasts to smuggle wildlife. For this reason, the fight against wildlife trafficking ideally begins at the barangay level,” Lagrada pointed out.

Dubbed as the “world’s most trafficked mammal”, pangolins are being hunted to extinction due to the high demand of foreign markets for its scales and meat that used in traditional medicine even without scientific support.

Philippine pangolin thrives in Palawan alone. It is classified as critically endangered, with 50 percent chance of going extinct in the next five years if threats are not addressed.