Left photo shows the saltwater crocodile on the truck. Right photo shows Dr. Glenn Rebong (pink shirt) of PWRCC with the crocodile before a necropsy was performed to determine the cause of its death. | Photo from Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff

The saltwater crocodile captured by residents of Brgy. Sumbiling in Bataraza town Wednesday night died from complications in its lungs that were punctured by bullets from an air gun converted into a .22 caliber rifle.

It was subjected to a necropsy examination conducted by Dr. Glenn Rebong of Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (PWRCC) where the crocodile was brought.

Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) spokesperson Jovic Fabello told Palawan News on Friday afternoon that Rebong found three slugs lodged in its ribcage.

He stated that this was the first time they had learned of a crocodile dying from gunshot wounds.

Fabello said they’re set to form an investigation team next week to identify the suspect or suspects who shot the crocodile.

“We will conduct an investigation regarding the matter. May criminal liability dito under the wildlife act,” Fabello said.

“Ang sabi sabi doon, mga construction workers daw ang bumira. Kaya kailangan i-investigate,” said Fabello, adding Johnny Balbadan, who escaped the crocodile’s attack on the night of January 11, might be one of the persons of interest.

Locals capture 15-foot male saltwater crocodile in Bataraza River
Saltwater crocodile dies hours after capture in Bataraza

Also found inside the animal’s belly, he said, were remains of a goat, a sea turtle carapace, pieces of bamboo and other woods, fish net, plastic sack, nylon, and other types of plastics.

Section 28 of Chapter V of Republic Act 9147, or the Wildlife Act of the Philippines, states that anyone who is proven to have killed a critically endangered species can be imprisoned for two years and one day to four years and/or fined P30,000 to P300,000.

After the examination, the crocodile was buried at the grounds of the PWRCC in Barangay Irawan, Puerto Princesa City. (with a report from Celeste Anna Formoso)

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