By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is hoping to increase the population of the Philippine crocodile with the establishment of a conservation center in Cagayan Valley.
A memorandum of agreement was signed by DENR, local government of San Mariano in Isabela, Isabela State University-Echague (ISU-Echague), and Mabuwaya Foundation Inc. for the joint management of the Philippine Crocodile Conservation Center in Echague, Isabela.
DENR-Cagayan Valley Regional Director Gil Aromin expressed his gratitude to the partners for helping the Department in wildlife protection.
“The DENR is the primary government agency mandated to protect and conserve our wildlife, however, we lack the technical and financial capabilities and facilities for the conservation of Philippine crocodile,” Aromin said.
The Philippine crocodile is considered as one of the rarest crocodile species in the world, and classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
“Let the Philippine Crocodile Conservation Center in this Region be known and be the exemplary conservation center throughout the country,” Aromin said.
Under the agreement, the local government will provide sand, gravel and boulders, and heavy equipment in the construction of the facility, designate information and tourist officer and caretaker, promote the Philippine crocodile breeding facility as a tourist attraction, and provide additional funding for the management of the facility.
For its part, the Isabela State University-Echague will allow the use of the designated area of 4,000 square meters, provide security during the construction period, and involve students and staff in the development if the facility as a crocodile headstart and breeding center.
The provision of funding for the main construction of the facility including technical supervision of the building and management of the facility will be shouldered by the Mabuwaya Foundation.
It will also provide technical supervision of crocodile husbandry and handling, and continue to source funding for the facility after 2022.
As a requirement in the establishment of wildlife centers, DENR issued a wildlife farm permit on November 13, 2017.
DENR will also provide logistics, technical assistance and other related services in the establishment and maintenance of the facility.
The monitoring of the facility will be jointly undertaken by the local government of San Mariano, ISU-Echague, Mabuwaya Foundation and DENR.