"Lolong" the 20ft saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) captured last month in the southern Philippines may have been a victim of illegal fishing, according to a report released by the Philippine Information Agency, the official government communications service.
Dr. Rex Linao, Executive Director of Agusan Development Foundation, attributes the capture of the giant crocodile to overfishing, as well as illegal fishing using electric rods and other means to quickly subdue and capture fish.
“We all know that Agusan Marsh is very rich with its flora and fauna. Illegal fishing using electric rod and other methods disturb the living things in the marsh area. Small and big fishes alike are killed. Years ago when people did not yet practice illegal fishing, fresh water fishes--which crocodiles feed on--were abundant in all parts of Agusan Marsh," Dr. Linao said in a statement released by the PIA.
"But because of the disturbance and merciless killing of fishes, they became scarce and the crocodiles had to go to other areas in the marsh to look for food. That is why people can now see them, while some of them have already inflicted harm to people and their farm animals,” he said.
The marsh in which Lolong was captured has been reduced from 111,000 hectares of protected land in 1991 to less than 20,000 hectares due to a conversion policy that was passed in 1996. In addition to the reduction of protected land for animals such as the saltwater crocodile to inhabit, other threats are affecting the Agusan Marsh, including the construction of dwellings along the river banks and inside the marsh area, destruction of the river banks, and logging and mining in the upland areas near the marsh. A group of local and regional government officials and conservation organizations, just convened a forum discussing how to further protect the marsh, which has tentatively been listed as a world heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The marsh, according to the report, is one of the most important wetland areas in the world. Their findings will soon be published in the PIA.