After its capture six days ago in the southern Philippines, a 20-foot-saltwater crocodile has not yet eaten. The Guardian reports that the crocodile, which has been named Lolong, has been under close observation for signs of stress, according to wildlife official Ronnie Sumiller.
Noting that it is “normal” for crocodiles to be stressed after capture, Sumiller also said that a crocodile as large as Lolong could go for six months without eating. A dead chicken placed near him went untouched. Lolong is currently in a 2,600-square foot pen, with concrete walls and barbed wire. Some people had been throwing stones at him to make him move and officials feared that doing so would make him only more stressed.
Sumiller said that residents of Bunawan, which is about 515 miles southwest of Manila, had asked him to come to the town two years ago after a huge crocodile attacked and ate a 12-year-old child from a capsized boat. Capturing Lolong took three weeks, five villagers whom Sumiller had trained and 20 steel cages with an animal carcass as bait. After inducing Lolong to vomit, Sumiller said he did not find any human remains; it is possible that there is a larger crocodile in the vicinity of Bunawan.
Lolong weighs about 1,075 kilograms and is estimated to be about 50 years old. Saltwater crocodiles can live for about 100 years and grow to almost 30 feet. Lolong is the largest crocodile captured alive in the Philippines in the past few years and may be the largest such caught in the world. As Jonathan Jones writes in the Guardian (where you can see a photo of the captured crocodile being dragged past crowds), the crocodile “looks today just as it did at the end of the Cretaceous era 65 million years ago.”
Environment secretary, Ramon Paje has stated that the crocodile was captured “because it was a threat to the community,” while noting that it and other reptiles were a “reminder that the country’s remaining rich habitats needed to be constantly protected.” Poachers have hunted crocodiles for their skin to use in “products ranging from bags to mobile phone cases.” Bunawan’s mayor, Edwin Cox Elorde, said that plans are afoot to “make the captured crocodile ‘the biggest star’ in an ecotourism park to be built to increase villagers’ and tourists’ awareness of the vital role the dreaded reptiles play in the ecosystem.” Under Philippine law, killing endangered crocodiles is forbidden, with violators facing up to 12 years in prison and a fine of 1 million pesos (about $23,244).
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Photo of the Philippine crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis) by brian.gratwicke
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