The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) will formulate a “management plan” aimed at minimizing the risk of crocodile attacks on humans in the Balabac area.

Jovic Fabello, PCSD spokesperson, told Palawan News on Wednesday that this plan targets to lessen accidents of crocodiles attacking humans by 10 percent each year.

“Work in progress ito. Depende ito sa cooperation din ng lahat. Actually, ‘yong isang napag-usapan namin is the Quick Response Team (QRT) na nagre-responde sa mga insidente. Nangyayari na ito ngayon. Ang bilis na mag-respond ng mga lead enforcement agencies natin,” said Fabello.

Fabello said a 10 percent decrease in crocodile attacks starting 2020 and another 10 percent each year for the succeeding years, until they reach a hundred percent decline, is their main goal.

Fabello said this management plan also includes a conservation strategy not only for the crocodiles but for the local mouse deer or “pilandok” in the area of Balabac.

Fabello said the management plan tackles the main issues that cause and make people vulnerable to a crocodile attack.

He further stated that three crocodile attacks have already been recorded this year, two of which resulted in the death of local residents.

Among the main issues considered were the crocodile habitat destruction; hunting and poaching of crocodiles and pilandok; residents raising their livestock near the coastal areas; close proximity of residents’ homes to the crocodiles’ habitat; and improper waste management, which includes throwing of fish and animal entrails with blood along the coast that lures crocodiles to come near the households as their predators’ instincts become intensified.

Fabello said a continuous and strengthened information dissemination campaigns are also included in the plan to make the residents more aware of the crocodiles’ nature, thus avoiding further accidents.

“Iyong mga nabanggit kong mga main issues ginawan namin iyan ng short-term at long-term action plan. May mga responsible agencies at mga counterparts [na mamamahala diyan for the implementation],” said Fabello.

Fabello said those issues were objectively considered with the help of Balabac authorities.

Fabello said one of the main challenges they encountered is the close proximity of Balabac residents to the habitat of crocodiles.

He said their earlier plan to establish a crocodile sanctuary in Balabac to protect the residents and conserve the wildlife is still brewing but is not yet probable this year.

“Although kung titingan mo ‘yong ating Water Code of the Philippines talagang ‘yong [tumira along the] easement, maigi talagang pinagbabawal. Dapat nga 40 meters ang layo mo sa pangpang. Ang problema siguro kultura rin ng mga tao doon na parang Badjao nakatira sa dagat na,” said Fabello.

He said this “clash of culture and law” makes it difficult for them to implement necessary measures in regard to protecting humans from being harmed by crocodiles.

Fabello said they are hoping that the local government of Balabac will soon welcome the proposed crocodile sanctuary for the common good.

“Siguro baka hindi pa malinaw sa ating LGU kung ano ba ang sanctuary at kahalagahan noon. So parang hindi pa welcome sa kanila ‘yong ganun. Kasi baka iniisip nila kapag sanctuary ay bawal nang pumasok ang tao and aalisin na ang mga taong nakatira doon. Hindi naman ganoon ‘yong concept natin ng sanctuary. [So ang establishment of crocodile sanctuary] hindi pa ngayon. Hopefully, in the next coming years,” said Fabello.

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