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The destruction of mangroves within the crocodile’s habitat has been identified as one of the major causes of the series of crocodile attacks in Balabac town.
This was among the results of the series of consultations conducted by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) in the villages of Balabac.
PCSDS was accompanied by the DENR-Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (PWRCC), and Crocodylus Porosus Inc. (CPPI), an NGO, in holding the consultations.
Other possible causes of the attack include the dumping of food wastes by the locals to the water bodies and the presence of livestock along the river, such as swine raised by local residents.
The crocodiles might have felt threatened and could be just trying to drive away people from encroaching into their natural habitats.
The PCSDS conducted a series of visits and consultations in the coastal communities of Balabac after several crocodile attacks in the area.
It was in April 2019, when the PCSDS spearheaded a workshop that crafted the 10-year action plan to address the locality’s problem and threats caused by crocodile attack.
The local officials, community leaders, teachers, fisherfolks and indigenous people in the area participated the workshop. “Nakapaloob sa planong ito ang mga pangmabilisan at pangmatagalang tugon na pagtutulungan ng iba’t ibang pampubliko at pribadong ahensya upang maresolba ang problema sa buwaya,” PCSD said in a statement about the 10-year plan intended to address threats of crocodile attacks.
The plan includes interventions and immediate actions needed such as the rehabilitation of mangrove areas, strict enforcement of environmental laws, and provision of alternative eco-friendly livelihood for the locals.
Last week, the PCSDS presented to the Sangguniang Bayan of Balabac, the 10-year plan, to seek the support of the local legislators.
Balabac has the largest swathes of mangroves in Palawan in terms of area, and it has the highest population of saltwater crocodiles in the country.
Crocodiles have important roles in the ecosystem. They help in digging the soil in riverbanks and swamps bringing more nutrients towards the sea, that provides food for smaller fishes.
“Ang mga buwaya ay mga malalaking nilalalang na siyang nag-aararo ng lupa sa ilog at pampang. Ang kanilang paggalaw sa lupa ay nagiging sanhi ng pag-akyat ng mga nutrients na kinakain ng maliliit na mga organismo na siyang pagkain ng mga isda,” explained Jake Binaday of CPPI.
He explained that unauthorized killing and removal of crocodiles from their natural habitats could be the cause for them to react defensively. This resulted for the remaining crocodile to increase its territories and when it is fully grown, they attack people in the area.
In the past three months, five crocodiles have been allegedly killed by locals with the use of explosives.