Philippine Crocodile Recovery
Zoos Victoria is proud to be working closely with the Mabuwaya Foundation, local farming communities and the Philippine Government to protect the Philippine Crocodile, the world’s most endangered crocodile species.
This species is only found in the Philippines. In the 1940s to 1960s wild populations were decimated by direct and accidental killing, and loss of their wetland habitats. Only two viable populations remain – in north-east Luzon Island and central Mindanao Island in the county’s south. Ongoing civil conflict in Mindanao prevents sustained protection of the crocodiles there. Consequently, protection of the crocodiles in north-east Luzon represents the strongest hope to secure a positive future for this species in the wild.
Zoos Victoria has partnered with the Mabuwaya Foundation (from Tagalog as “long live the crocodile”) since 2000 to protect the Philippine Crocodile. We provide funding for the Foundation’s fieldwork, which includes habitat protection and wild crocodile population surveys. We also hold the position of of advisor to the Philippines National Committee for Crocodile Conservation and we work strategically to facilitate partnerships with the Philippines Government and international zoos to support in situ conservation of this species.
The Mabuwaya Foundation’s regional recovery program
- Trains local villagers as guards for community-based Philippine Crocodile Sanctuariess.
- Increases wild crocodile populations by establishing community-managed sanctuaries for crocodiles and regularly monitoring wild populations.
- Assists communities with the ‘head-start program’, where hatchling crocodiles are collected and raised at the Municipal Rearing Station for 18-24 months before being released at sites more likely to withstand the impact of typhoons.
- Develops action plans for sustainable environmental management.
- Promotes positive attitudes towards Philippines Crocodiles.
- Integrates community awareness program within the local community through joint activities with Isabela State University.
- Facilitates wildlife and habitat protection in the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park.
- The San Mariano Municipal Government provides annual funding for the sanctuary protection groups, and has passed regulation protecting crocodiles, habitat and other wildlife.
- The Philippine Crocodile is promoted as a flagship species for broader freshwater wetland conservation across northern Luzon.
- The presence of the program is also helping reduce illegal activities in the Northern Sierra Natural Park.
- Local community responsibility for managing community affairs has been a key success factor of the Foundation’s program with more than 1,500 people now involved.
- Eight crocodile sanctuaries have been established and are regularly patrolled with surveys showing a continuing increase in Philippine Crocodile numbers.
- Successful breeding of Philippines Crocodiles at Melbourne Zoo as part of an awareness raising program for Australian visitors.
- Multi-partner agreement signed to facilitate construction of a conservation breeding centre for Philippine Crocodiles in San Mariano.