Friday, September 30, 2011

Crocodile Population Study to be Conducted in the Philippines' Agusan Marsh

A Philippine crocodile

It has been recently announced that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will conduct a series of studies on the crocodile population of the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary. Ramon J. P. Paje, the department's secretary, stated that this is going to be a scientific study which will not only include experts from DENR itself but also other groups. These include representative experts from the sanctuary's Protected Area Management Board (PAMB), local academic institutions, non-government organizations, and the Crocodylus Porosus Philippines, Inc. (CPPI). Out of these groups, the CPPI is a private organization consisting of six legitimate crocodile breeders who base their stock from the Palawan Rescue and Conservation Center which is managed by the DENR.
A saltwater crocodile

Mr. Paje hopes that this study will provide the department necessary information on the abundance of crocodiles within the marsh. From that information, they will set up their short and long term management program for the reptiles. He further explained that the study will also involve education and information campaigns to raise community awareness on preventing any crocodile attacks in the area. He also added that the study hopes to form a local expertise on crocodile monitoring and habitat evaluation. In addition to that, the government of Bunawan, Agusan del Sur has shown full support of for the study and has joined forces with the DENR in establishing management measures for a crocodile named Lolong. These measurements include establishing an appropriate facility or improving an existing one, visitor management, crocodile health maintenance, community training, record-keeping, and reporting.
Lolong; a 21-foot saltwater crocodile captured early this month

I'm very proud to see what the people in the Philippines are doing regarding the crocodile conservation, especially in the area where the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary stands. This is the largest freshwater wetland in the nation, covering 14,836 hectares and is home to the largest concentrations of Philippine crocodiles and the infamous saltwater crocodiles. Incidentally, the area had witnessed early this month when a monstrous discovery when a 21-foot-long saltwater crocodile was captured. Named Lolong, this 2,370-pound male is currently spending his time in captivity where he will remain. However, he is one of several crocodiles making their home in Bunawan. With so many crocodiles, the local people would definitely be in grave danger. This is why it was crucial to conduct a study on these reptiles and to ensure public safety. It is slated to begin in November and end in April 2012. All in all, I'm happy to see the people are taking this initiative instead of persecuting these creatures. Because as far as their bloodthirsty reputation as man-eaters goes, they play a major role in sustaining their wetland ecosystem.

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