Monday, May 21, 2012

In good grace part two in Isabela

For the Isabela trip, we had to be at the mini-summit on day one and then headed off to San Mariano for the release of head-started crocodiles from its rearing station  to the wilds at Dunoy Lake still in San Mariano but within the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park (NSMNP).

The group I was with were Zoo Keepers and animal lovers from all over the world as well as sponsors of the Philippine Crocodile Conservation Efforts since 1999. We were all ready to rough it out in the wilds for the sake of the Philippine Crocodile, and indeed we all had a great time sleeping on tents and riding on specially crafted six wheeler trucks over mountains and hills!

The Philippines have saltwater or estuarine crocs and freshwater crocs or the Crocodylus Mindorensis. For this project, the foundation is specifically takes care of the freshwater crocs. They are small (3 meters for male and 2.5 meters for the female) and are endemic to the Philippines. They are now endangered because of hunting and deforestation since they live in freshwater wetlands, creeks, rivers and marshes. They feed on insects, snails, fish, birds and small animals. The presence of a large number of people in the areas where they live impacts strongly on their habitat being lost especially to large scale farming like kaingin or slash and burn.

The release of 12 crocs at Dunoy Lake was the highlight of the trip as seen in the pictures
At the end of the trip, the reward was not just the freshwater crocodile experience but the bird watching accounts were also very promising.

The release of crocodiles

Mr. Chris Banks

Juvenile crocs feel good!

Mr. Shaun, the coke guy of NatGeo

Mr. Lacoste is peeling a ficus fruit and gave it around to taste after
By now I have held five crocodylus mindorensis since I started working with the Mabuwaya Foundation through Merlijn Van Weerd.  Will write my press release at the :)

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