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Spot a snake? Contact the barangay first for assistance

By: Niña Mae C. Oliverio - Multimedia Reporter - CDN Digital | February 19,2024 - 07:31 PM


A photo of a python being held by a keeper of DENR-7’s Wildlife Rescue Center in Cebu City. CDN Digital photo/Christian Dave Cuizon

CEBU CITY, Philippines —The sightings of king cobras and other types of snakes have become prevalent in Cebu recently.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Central Visayas (DENR-7) has previously stated that among the reasons for the increasing sightings in Cebu are the mating season and the destruction of their habitat.

The agency has urged the public to report snake sightings to the authorities, emphasizing that they should first contact the nearest barangay—the smallest administrative division in the country.

Reach out to the barangay

For example, Rainier Manlegro, Ecosystems Specialist 2 of DENR-7’s Enforcement Division, said that when a snake enters a house, the first responders are the representatives from the barangay.

This step is crucial, especially when people do not know how to handle the snake.

Manlegro added that the DENR has been training “wildlife enforcement officers” through the local government units (barangay) to handle wildlife. The same protocol should be followed when encountering a snake outside the house.

Since some sightings may be far from the DENR-7 office in Sitio Sudlon, Barangay Lahug, Cebu City, it is recommended to contact the barangay first for snake rescue. After the barangay officers rescue the snake, they will turn it over to the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), which will then pass it on to DENR-7.

“Mao gyud na siya’y atong protocol,” he said.

If snake sightings occur in rural areas, the public should contact their local government unit (LGU) for assistance. However, if the sightings are near DENR-7’s office, they can be reached directly.

The DENR-7 hotline number for such instances is 328-3335.

The agency clarified that while it is unlawful to exploit wildlife resources and habitats under Section 27 of Republic Act 9147, killing a snake may be justifiable if one’s life is endangered.

What happens after the snake is rescued?

After a snake or any wildlife is rescued and turned over to DENR, the agency assesses its condition and determines if it requires treatment or rehabilitation. If the snake is wild and not under human care, it will be released back into the wild after the rehabilitation stage.

Carlo Babiera, Ecosystems Specialist 1 of DENR-7’s Conservation and Development Division, explained that the wild nature of snakes is “instinct”, making release to the wild necessary as they will continue hunting for food.

Earlier this year, six snakes, including five reticulated pythons and a Philippine rat snake, were released into the wild in the protected areas within Central Visayas that are far from the community on February 16, Friday.

In the Wildlife Rescue Center (WRC) of DENR-7 located in Barangay Kalunasan, some snakes were turned over to them because their former owners did not possess permits to keep wildlife animals.

Manlegro explained that the reticulated pythons turned over to them were “dependent” on humans, making it difficult to release them into the wild because “they don’t know how to hunt.

“Ang DENR man gud, moingon [gani] ka og mag release og wildlife, scientific basis man gud ta. Wala ta moingon nga atong buhian lang pud og asa dapita. We are looking for the welfare of the people pud baya,” he told CDN Digital.


Reticulated python captured inside compound of DOH-7 in Cebu

Cobras in the Philippines: What you should know about them


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TAGS: DENR-7, King Cobra, reticulated python, snakes

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