Philippine Crocodile Recovery Programme
To conserve the Philippine crocodile and its freshwater habitats in the Philippines
The Philippine crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis) is listed by the IUCN as critically endangered and considered by the Crocodile Specialist Group as one of the highest priorities for urgent conservation action. A Philippine-wide survey in 1992/1993 reported a total wild population of 500 to 1000 individuals. A captive breeding project was initiated in 1987, but it was not until 1999 that in situ conservation started, when the species was confirmed in San Mariano Municipality in Isabela Province, north-eastern Philippines. At that time, the wild population in this area was less than 20 individuals in three small breeding localities. These sites are on the western slopes of the Northern Sierra Madre National Park, which is the largest protected area in the Philippines at more than 320 000 ha.
There were three major challenges when the programme commenced: (1) negative community attitudes towards crocodiles generally; (2) Philippine crocodiles were being killed and the population was declining; and (3) Philippine crocodile biology and ecology were unknown. Since 1999, the following has been achieved:
- The wild Philippine crocodile population in northern Luzon has increased from less than 20 known individuals in 1999 to more than 70 in 2010.
- The project has demonstrated that head-starting is a viable approach with this species.
- Community understanding of and support for Philippine crocodiles has grown significantly.
- Six sanctuaries for Philippine crocodiles have been established.
- 50 captive-bred Philippine crocodiles were successfully released and established.
- Philippine crocodiles are now recolonising areas where the species had been wiped out in the 1950s.
- Strong and ongoing local and municipal government support.
- Benefits are flowing to the communities as a result of the Philippine crocodile conservation programme: employment, improved water supplies, strengthened land tenure, education, training and improved fish stocks leading to better diet.
- No Philippine crocodile has been deliberately killed in the area since 2004.
- The biology and ecology of the Philippine crocodile is much better understood than in 1999.
WAZA Conservation Project 10010 is implemented by the Mabuwaya Foundation, with support provided by Zoos Victoria as well as Gladys Porter Zoo, Danish Crocodile Zoo, Chester Zoo, London Zoo, Cologne Zoo, Zurich Zoo and Bergen Aquarium. Other stakeholders involved in the project include the Department of Environment & Natural Resources, Philippine Crocodile National Recovery Team, Isabela State University, San Mariano Municipal Government and Divilacan Municipal Government (all Philippine partners).
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