The 10-foot male sub-adult saltwater crocodile which was caught by Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm inmates on March 24, 2019. (Photos courtesy of CO1 Asher B. Labrador)

(UPDATED) A 10-foot male subadult saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) was captured “for the first time” on Sunday morning in a small river within the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm (IPPF) in Puerto Princesa City.  

Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) information officer Jovic Fabello confirmed the entrapment of the saltwater crocodile around 1 a.m. on March 24.

It was allegedly attacking the poultry animals of the inmates in the correctional facility.

“Ito ‘yong first time natin na nagkaroon ng record na ganito sa Iwahig. Pero sa mga related literature during the past ay lahat naman ng ilog ng Palawan ay meron. Kaya lang syempre nawawala ‘yong iba dahil lumiliit ‘yong kanilang habitat at ‘yong iba naman napapasok ng tao at depende rin sa food source. May tendency kasi silang lumipat from one river system to another,” he said.

He said the estuarine crocodile is now at the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (PWRCC) in nearby Barangay Irawan.

Fabello said it was entrapped in a river that is only around three to four meters wide, but they suspect it came from the Iwahig River.

He said saltwater crocodiles are usually attracted by livestock and poultry animals.

“Ang duda kasi namin na-attract ‘yong buwaya doon sa mga… meron silang ano dyan parang turkey farm. May mga alagang pabo, pati itik, maraming animals doon [sa Iwahig] na malapit sa ilog. Kasi parang pagpasok mo sa gate ng Iwahig, tapos ‘yong unang tulay, doon lang siya sa tulay na ‘yon [nakuha] papasok sa Iwahig,” Fabello said.

Fabello said they will be conducting an awareness campaign soon in Iwahig because of the capture of the saltwater crocodile.

The information drive is important to make people understand the situation why saltwater crocodiles are leaving their habitats to forage for food and why they are important in keeping the balance in the ecosystem.

He said they also want to correct “assumptions” that the latest saltwater crocodile to be caught came from the PWRCC.

“Kasi may mga tsismis na nanggaling sa crocodile farm itong latest na nahuli. Na-verify ko na ‘yan at ang sabi ay hindi pina-tail cut ang buwaya. Kasi once na galing sa crocodile farm, pagka-panganak na pagka-panganak ng buwaya, tini-tail cut kaagad nila ‘yan na parang palatandaan. Itong nahuli sa Iwahig walang tail cut,” he said. (with reports from Celeste Anna Formoso)