The municipal government of Bunawan, Agusan del Sur today presented to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) the certificate proclaiming “Lolong” as the world’s largest living crocodile in captivity.
Bunawan Mayor Edwin Elorde personally presented the certificate from the Guinness World Records to DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje in a simple ceremony held at the Bulwagan Ninoy Aquino of the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC) in Quezon City. The ceremony was witnessed by members of agency’s executive committee, including Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau Director Theresa Mundita Lim.
Paje, in accepting the certificate, expressed his thanks to Elorde and the Bunawan people for deciding to capture “Lolong” alive. “We laud the good mayor and his constituents for their continuing efforts to keep ‘Lolong’ alive as a means to educate people on the importance of crocodiles in our wetland ecosystems,” he said.
He added that the DENR has decided to consider “Lolong” as an “ambassador” for the country’s crocodile conservation program. “Crocodiles should not be indiscriminately hunted simply for their meat or their skin. We have crocodile farms that breed them specifically for that purpose. Crocodiles in the wild help maintain the natural web of life between predators and their prey,” he stressed.
“Lolong,” a saltwater crocodile, is presently confined in a pen exclusively built for him, the star attraction at what is now the Bunawan Eco-Park and Research Center in Brgy. Consuelo in Bunawan. He was captured in September last year at Magsagangsang River in Bunawan, following his attack of livestock and the reported killing of a 12-year-old girl in Lake Mihaba in 2009.
A team from the National Geographic channel, led by crocodile specialist Dr. Adam Britton, measured the crocodile in November to confirm its total body length of 6.17 meters or 20.24 feet. The previous largest crocodile on record was “Cassius Clay”, measuring 5.48 meters or 17.97 feet long and captured in Australia.
There are two types of crocodiles found throughout the country. The endemic Philippine freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis), which is considered the world’s most endangered crocodile species, and the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). Loss of habitat and indiscriminate hunting are threatening the existence of both species. The government has set up the Crocodile Farming Institute, now known as the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, to breed crocodiles for distribution to seven authorized commercial operators nationwide.