The Western Philippines University (WPU) considers the establishment of a Wildlife Forensic Laboratory a major breakthrough for its educational system,” an official of the university said.

University of College of Fisheries and Natural Sciences professor Dr. Jhonamie Mabuhay-Omar stated that they are fortunate to have been chosen as the partner of the University of the Philippines Department of Science Research Foundation (DSRF) and host of the laboratory, aligning with the university’s thrust towards biodiversity conservation.

She considers the establishment of the laboratory “another milestone” for WPU, and they are excited about the possibility of conducting research on barcoding different wildlife species in Palawan.

“Kasi we are known to be the last ecological frontier and marami pa nga tayong species talaga na hindi pa identified, hindi pa na-sequence, hindi pa natin alam yung kanilang genetic identity so with this DNA barcoding lab,” Mabuhay-Omar said.

“Nakikita namin na ang dami naming pwedeng magawa, plus the opportunity to have the training kasi yung enforcement kasi is one thing pero yung maintindihan mo how you use the DNA as evidence o kaya how it works so mas maa-appreciate nila yung technology na yun kasi we can offer this technology sa enforcers, researchers and to anyone na interested sa topic,” she added.

She further stated that she has encouraged WPU faculty and staff, as well as other researchers, to join the training so that they can better appreciate the importance of DNA and contribute to preventing illegal wildlife trade.

“For the meantime, this is going to be like volunteerism kasi diba once may ma-apprehend tapos walang available staff dedicated sa laboratory to do so anyone who’s available can do the DNA extraction and barcoding kasi we already have the training,” she explained.

“Maliban sa meron ka nang laboratory, meron pang capacity building. So parang mas ma-e-encourage yung aming faculty and staff na nandyan lang to engage in related researches na pwedeng magamit yung laboratory so malaking bagay siya sa amin sa WPU,” she added.

Furthermore, she said the laboratory is also a boost to WPU in terms of research, particularly for courses they offer like BS Fisheries, BS Marine Biology, BS in Aquatic Biology, and other courses with biodiversity and environmental laws and protection subjects.

“Aside from this, WPU also offers BS Criminology so the laboratory will also enhance the students’ awareness regarding DNA and its applications.

“So yung faculty and staff nila (College of Criminal Justice Education) kasama magti-train so parang ito, we are elevating into higher level ng enforcement,” she said.

Mabuhay-Omar likewise stressed that the application of knowledge acquired through trainings gives a sense of responsibility and duty for them to protect biodiversity once they apply what they have learned, particularly actual barcoding and DNA sequencing.

“So we are also aspiring na magkaroon ng dedicated na staff na trained to man the laboratory and process the samples and eventually ma-accredit sila and become a service laboratory that everyone can benefit,” she concluded.