A coconut farmer was killed by a saltwater crocodile Thursday afternoon in a river in a remote village in Rizal town, southern Palawan while saving his son from the reptile attack.
Bojie Lorenzo, chief of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (MDRRMO) in Rizal, said 35-year-old Jomar Banggali was killed around 5:30 p.m. after saving one of his sons from being attacked by the animal in Canipaan River in Sitio Bulikawa, Barangay Canipaan.
“Ang kuwento ay ano raw… iniligtas niya lang ang anak niya. Naliligo sila ng mga anak niya sa ilog then inatake iyong isa pero parang iniharang niya ang sarili niya, siya ang nahila ng buwaya,” Lorenzo told Palawan News in a phone interview.
Banggali’s family, he said, lives next to the Canipaan River in the remotest part of Rizal.
He said the river, which teems with saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus), is actually being proposed as a sanctuary in their municipality.
“Kapitbahay nila ‘yong ilog, nasa tabi mismo ‘yong bahay nila. Anim sila, eh… anim na magkakapatid sila. Hindi pa namin na-co-confirm kung sino sa mga anak niya ang aatakihin sana,” he said.
Banggali’s body which went missing after being pulled by the crocodile underwater was located Friday morning around 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
“Nakita na ‘yong body kanina doon sa may katiringan, isang uri ng kawayan sa may ilog. Buo pa rin ang body na na-recover, pero parang fractured ‘yong ulo… na-crack ‘yong ulo dahil sinakmal nga,” Lorenzo said.
Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) Staff spokesperson Jovic Fabello said their Wildlife Monitoring Unit (WMU) in Rizal will be assessing Canipaan River where the attack happened and its result will be their basis in making a response.
Normally, the move is to look for the problem saltwater crocodile and extract it from the area where an attack happened, but since it is still their breeding season, Fabello said that option might not be possible.
“Ang initial na move natin ngayon from the PCSD ay tingnan ‘yong site together with the local government unit and other sectors and then titingnan natin kung pasok siya doon sa limang criteria na puwede tayong mag-extract ng crocodiles from the wild. May problema lang kasi hindi na makita si crocodile sa dami ng buwaya dyan, mahirap na ma-identify. At the same time, pasok pa rin sa breeding season… doon sa criteria kapag pasok sa breeding season, malamang hindi kami mag-e-extract,” he said.