The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development and Staff (PCSDS) recommended the establishment of “critical habitat” in Balabac as a long-term plan to avoid crocodile attacks in the area as it will segregate human from animal habitat.
“Isa sa mga long term plan recommendation ay ang pag-establish ng critical habitat, i-segregate yung habitat for crocodiles,” said Levita Lagrada, Officer-In-Charge (OIC) for PCSDS’ Regulation and Enforcement Division during a press conference, December 05, 2018. Lagrada said that Balabac will be prioritized for Environmentally Critical Area Network (ECAN) Zoning next year.
“Kasama rin sa plano na ipaintindi sa LGU na yung pag-alaga ng kambing, yung sa kanilang bahay, yon yung nag-a-attract sa crocodile na lumapit,” said Lagrada. She added that in 2014 the PCSDS conducted a plan named “Human-Crocodile Conflict” believing that the attacks of crocodile in Balabac is due to the shared water resources.
“In fact, nung 2014, meron na kaming ginawang plan. Ang tawag po namin dito ay ‘human-crocodile conflict’ kasi naniniwala kami na nagkakaroon ng conflict dahil, of course, yon yung kelangan ng crocodile, yon din ang kailangan ng tao at syempre alam din natin na yon din ang habitat ng crocodile,” she explained.
Jovic Fabello, PCSD Spokesperson, said that one of the most vital ways to avoid crocodile attacks is to strengthen the awareness of the locality. “Basically, ang kailangan dito ay i-raise ang awareness tungkol sa behavior ng crocodiles.
Saan ba sila dumarating, kelan ba sila kumakain? Ano ba yong mga factors na nag-i-influence sa kanila na lumapit sa area o di sila lumapit?” he said. Fabello emphasized that one of the factors of crocodile attacks in Balabac is because the residents are living near the sea that triggers the crocodiles. “Basically, kung makikita mo ang area, ang mga bahay ay nasa dagat. So, kung ako si buwaya, bakit pa ako pupunta sa lugar na mahihirapan ako kung malapit na ko sa mga prey,” Fabello explained.
The PCSDS, the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (PWRCC), Philippine Coast Guard-Palawan (PCG-Pal), Philippine Maritime and other related government agencies are now joining efforts to lessen the crocodile-related incidents in Palawan. The crocodile is from Barangay V in Balabac and was named “Singko” which also recently attacked a fisherman in the said town. “Singko” is now under the custody of the PWRCC for enclosed shelter.