On 31 July 2009, 50 captive-bred Philippine crocodiles were released into the wild in Dicatian Lake, Barangay Dicatian, Municipality of Divilacan, Isabela Province, Luzon Island. The Philippine crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis), which is endemic to the Philippines, is one of the most severely threatened crocodile species in the World.
It is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. The total population surviving in the wild is estimated at only 100 mature individuals. The last wild Philippine crocodiles are restricted to northern Luzon and southwest Mindanao. Philippine crocodiles are relatively small and pose no danger to humans unless provoked.
The released crocodiles were bred in the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (PWRCC) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The Isabela-based Mabuwaya Foundation implemented a community-based crocodile conservation program with funding from the UK-registered Rufford Maurice Laing Foundation. The released crocodiles are about 1.2 meters (4 feet) long. Ten crocodiles have been fitted with radio transmitters. Their movements and adaptation will be monitored by the Mabuwaya Foundation and the DENR to gather more scientific information as a basis for future crocodile reintroductions elsewhere.
The Barangay Council of Dicatian has approved the reintroduction and has declared the lake a Philippine crocodile sanctuary through a Barangay ordinance. The Local Government Unit of Divilacan has also supported the release of crocodiles in the lake. No people live along the lake which is surrounded by forest. Nature loving tourists are welcome to visit the lake and see wild Philippine crocodiles and other endemic wildlife up close. An observation tower and campsite have been constructed next to the lake. The small ecotourism project is expected to provide benefits to the local community living near the lake and to the municipality of Divilacan.
Dicatian Lake is situated in the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park (NSMNP), the largest and biologically the most diverse protected area of the Philippines. The NSMNP has gained even more importance with this crocodile reintroduction and now protects the largest single Philippine crocodile population in the wild.
The release of 50 Philippine crocodiles in Dicatian Lake is a major step towards a recovery of the wild population and the future survival of this species.
The reintroduction event was led by Mayor Venturito Bulan of Divilacan, Barangay Captain Felino Libunao of Dicatian, Director Glenn Rebong of the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, Josie De Leon of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, Merlijn van Weerd of the Mabuwaya Foundation (and member of the IUCN SSC Crocodile Specialist Group), invited guests, local government officials and community members.
For more information please contact Marites Balbas (Communication Officer Mabuwaya Foundation: Tel: +63 (0)921 5758535; Email: email@example.com) or Merlijn van Weerd (Director Mabuwaya Foundation, Email: merlijnvanweerd@yahoo...)