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6Watershed Forest ReserveTEXT

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has welcomed a nature and adventure park in Negros Oriental province as its newest partner in wildlife conservation and in the fight against illegal wildlife trade and poaching.

The DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) recently forged an agreement with Dreamland Nature and Adventure Park in Amlan town, which agreed to become a repository of animals rescued and confiscated from wildlife traffickers.

Owned and managed by the municipal government of Amlan, Dreamland attracts tourists and local folk with its nature and wildlife adventures. The 16-hectare park recently acquired wildlife species, including wild cats from the Middle East and camels from Australia.

BMB Director Theresa Mundita Lim and Amlan Mayor Bentham dela Cruz signed the agreement during simple rites held at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City. Negros Oriental Rep. George Arnaiz, Amlan Vice Mayor Gino dela Cruz and other BMB officials witnessed the signing.

Lim said the partnership was part of the BMB’s continuing management and improvement of its wildlife rescue centers (WRCs), which rehabilitate injured, sick and orphaned native wildlife and releases healthy animals to their natural habitat.

She explained that the BMB has the authority to dispose of some of the animals in its custody through different modes, including partnership with zoos and other animal centers.

“Some of our confiscated protected species cannot be released back to the wild, so one of our options is to turn them over to qualified institutions for co-management,” Lim pointed out.

According to the BMB chief, the collaboration would boost government efforts to educate the public on the importance of preserving wildlife.

For his part, Mayor Dela Cruz said the initiative would serve as Amlan’s contribution to wildlife conservation. “If we don’t do this now, future generations may be able to see only in pictures what some of our wildlife look like,” he said.

Under the agreement, the BMB will “loan” to Dreamland “certain species and quantity of wildlife fauna” from its other WRCs. The bureau will also document and monitor Dreamland’s care of the animals, and provide the necessary technical assistance.

Dreamland, on the other hand, will assume full responsibility, including shouldering all expenses for the transfer and care of the animals.

The facility will also be allowed to acquire additional species from authorized sources, but the loaned animals and its future progenies or offspring will remain as government property.

The agreement shall remain in effect for five years and is renewable.

Dela Cruz said the municipal government is expected to gain a 10 percent share in the income of the park which, aside from being a wildlife facility, is also being developed for other recreational purposes. ###

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