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Philippine crocodile recovery
Protecting the world’s most critically endangered crocodile species.
Zoos Victoria is working closely with the Mabuwaya Foundation, local communities and the Philippine Government to protect one of the last known breeding populations of the Philippine Crocodile, Crocodylus mindorensis. The program is based in the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park on north-east Luzon Island and integrates wildlife conservation with community development.
This is the primary in situ conservation program for the Critically Endangered Philippine Crocodile. The crocodile is also promoted as a flagship for broader freshwater wetland conservation across northern Luzon.
This program has become a model for other Philippines conservation projects. The presence of the program is also helping to reduce illegal activities in the park.
The conservation issue
Populations of the Critically Endangered Philippine Crocodile have been decimated by hunting, loss of isolated populations and ongoing habitat destruction. There are now only two remnant populations, both of which continue to be threatened by habitat loss.
The Philippines has laws to protect its environment and wildlife, but the capacity to implement these laws at a national scale is often lacking. Although less of a threat on Luzon Island, civil insurgency has also prevented the protection or even study of wildlife in some areas.
Local community responsibility for managing community affairs (including natural resource management) is a key factor in the success of the Mabuwaya Foundation’s program.
Key program objectives
With strong support from the local government, the Mabuwaya Foundation works with farming communities to implement the National Recovery Plan for the Philippine Crocodile by:
- Protecting crocodiles and their habitat by employing local villagers as guards and developing sustainable livelihood options
- Increasing wild crocodile populations by establishing community-managed sanctuaries for crocodiles and fish. Communities assist in the ‘head-start program’, where eggs and juvenile crocodiles are collected and reared in captivity before being released at sizes more likely to withstand the impact of typhoons
- Facilitating the development of village action plans for sustainable environmental management
- Promoting positive attitudes towards Philippine Crocodiles.
Zoos Victoria’s role
Zoos Victoria provides funding for the Mabuwaya Foundation’s field work (habitat protection and wild crocodile population surveys). We also hold the position of International Coordinator on the Philippine Crocodile Recovery Team, and work strategically to facilitate partnerships with the Philippine Government and other international organisations.
- Seven crocodile sanctuaries have been established and are regularly patrolled
- The San Mariano Municipal Government provides annual funding for the sanctuary protection groups, and has passed regulation protecting crocodiles, habitat and other wildlife
- There has been a significant decrease in the level of illegal activity in the area, e.g. dynamite fishing and illegal clearing of forest
- Surveys show a significant increase in the abundance of Philippine Crocodile from less than 20 adults to more than 150 (November 2011), with evidence of ‘head-start’ releases expanding the species’ current range
- Establishment of a nest protection scheme that rewards families assisting in crocodile nest protection during the incubation period. This income has also helped families and local communities.
- 14 community fish sanctuaries established and managed by village communities
- An integrated community awareness program
- Two regional conservation workshops, leading to 15 communities establishing and implementing local conservation action plans that form the basis of a regional Philippine Crocodile conservation strategy
- More than 1,500 local people are now involved in the program.
San Mariano Municipal Government
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