A 15-foot-long adult male saltwater crocodile that attempted to attack a resident living near a river in the southern Palawan town of Bataraza was captured by locals and turned over on Thursday to environmental authorities for treatment after sustaining a wound to its body.
Jovic Fabello, spokesperson for the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS), told Palawan News that the crocodile, which measured 70 centimeters in body width, tried but failed to attack resident Johnny Balbada last night, January 11, between 8-8:45 p.m., in Sumbiling river.
“Apparently, itong tao raw—gabi, mga around 8 p.m., nagsasalok ng tubig doon sa tabi ng ilog—kasi yong bahay niya sa tabi ng ilog. May parang tuntungan, siyempre si buwaya—ay meron talagang viable population ng buwaya sa Sumbiling—naghahanap siya ng prey. Nocturnal siya, sa gabi siya naghahanap, nakita niya itong si tao. Nag-attempt siyang umatake, pero nakabantay yong tao, hindi siya nakuha,” he said.
“Nag-decide sila na hulihin yong buwaya. Nahuli nila and na report kanina,” added Fabello.
According to him, Balbada may have led a group of locals in trapping and capturing the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) for no other reason than to restrain it.
Under the law, he said, it is illegal to capture a crocodile if it has not been established that it poses a threat. Additionally, validation protocols must be followed, and trapping and capture must only be performed by wildlife authorities, as well as coordinated with relevant government agencies.
“Yon ang sinasabi ng batas, huwag huhulihin kasi baka sila pa ang madisgrasya dahil hindi naman sila expert sa crocodile,” he said.
When the incident was reported, personnel were dispatched to the area to examine the crocodile, according to Fabello. Their team was responsible for the crocodile’s containment and health assessment.
Their team found that it has a wound on its belly/chest, which it may have acquired while attempting to elude capture.
A local source stated that it was impaled by a piece of wood with a pointed end. “Medyo stress na rin po yung croc, may sugat kasi sa pag ikot ikot niya, natusok ng kahoy sa ilog yung tagiliran niya.”
Following consultation with representatives from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (PWRCC), it was decided that the injured crocodile should be moved from Bataraza to the center in Puerto Princesa so that it can receive medical attention for its wound.
“Inayos namin yong pagkaka restrain noong buwaya, and yong the usual protocol, ininspekyon namin yong health status, meron siyang sugat sa may chest part sa ilalim. Siguro nakuha yon during noong hinuhuli siya ng mga tao. Malamang doon galing,” he said.