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North Cotabato fisher folks capture 80 kilos crocodile

Local News • 09:01 AM Sat Apr 16, 2016
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By: 
Ferdinandh Cabrera
Silangan on its way to the Crocodile breeding station in Kidapawan City. (Ferdinandh Carbera)

KABACAN, North Cotabato -– Rising temperature, forest
fire and destruction of its natural habitat are forcing wild animals, including
freshwater crocodiles to wander, even to areas inhabited by humans, as in the
case of a 80 kilos croc found in a remote village here, officials said Friday.

The 8-feet long crocodile (Crocodylus Mindorensis) was captured
by inland-fishermen, led by Mamangkas Mamatong, in Barangay Kuyapon, Kabacan,
North Cotabato on Monday.

Mamatong told reporters that he was shocked to see the huge
reptile inside his fish cage in the Liguasan marshland feasting on the fish
that earlier trapped inside the indigenous fish trap.

He then alerted his relatives and villagers and jointly they
seized the crocodile which tried to resist captivity but later yielded in.

Mamatong and villagers thought at first of making money out of
the catch by selling it to anyone interested. Life has been so hard for
Mamatong and several freshwater fisher folks in Kabacan due to the long dry
spell.

However, they were told it would be illegal to capture and sell
crocodile, an endanger specie.

Crocodile researchers of the University of Southern Mindanao, a
state-run university here, decided to take in possession of the reptile.Researchers and university workers transporting the
reptile from Barangay Kuyapon to the North Cotabato provincial capitol grounds
in Amas, Kidapawan City handled the huge animal with extra care as it was injured.The crocodile has injuries owing to how it was captured by
fisher folks using traditional means of overpowering a huge animal.

Dr. Cayetano Pomares of USM-Kabacan treated the reptile while it
was at the provincial Crocodile Rescue and Breeding Center.

Pomares said the captured crocodile was among the remaining
reptiles in the Maguindanao marshland, also known as Liguasan marsh, due to
Climate Change and human intrusion to its natural habitat.

He estimated that there are only about 150 to 200 crocodile left
in the marshland.

According to Pomares, the on and off grass fire in the dried up
portion of the marsh also forced reptiles to migrate to other areas where food
are available.

Humans catch fish from the marshland and fish species in the
marsh are also crocodile’s favourite food,” Pomares explained of how the croc
was captured.

There is some sort of a tug of war between reptiles and humans
on food, in this case the fresh water fish,” he added.

He theorized that fisher folks catch fish and croc catch fish
too and when the crocodile barged inside the fish traps then it is another big
catch” for fisher folks.

He attributed the migration of crocodiles outside of its natural
habitat to increasing water temperature and receding water in the marshland.

Forester Michael Bao of Department of Environment and Natural
Resources also agreed Climate Change was a major factor that forced reptiles to
migrate.

That is why we appeal to fisher folks and those living near the
marshland not to capture or harm the crocodile,” Bao said.

Help protect our wild life so our next generation could still
witness this kind of animals in future,” he added.

Pomares said further study will be conducted on the captured reptile
for research purposes before it will be released back to the wild.

DENR and USM officials named the crocodile as Silangan” since
it was captured in the eastern side of the 200,000 hectares Liguasan marshland.

Two year's ago, a huge crocodile was captured in Mlang, North
Cotabato but Mayor Lito Pinol in coordination with the local DENR office,
ordered the return of the reptile back to its natural habitat.

In recognition of the endangered species, the town, in a
municipal resolution, named the crocodile as Malang,” referring to the town’s identity.
(Ferdinandh Cabrera)

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