Agusan town to fight to keep ‘Lolong’
DAVAO CITY—The plan of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to transfer “Lolong” the giant crocodile to the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City was met with opposition from the mayor of Bunawan, Agusan del Sur.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje earlier said they were studying the feasibility of transferring Lolong, the 20.3-foot saltwater crocodile captured in Bunawan last year, to the 22.7-hectare park in Quezon City.
Mundita Lim, director of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, said there would be no legal issue if Paje wished to take custody of Lolong, as the reptile belongs to the national government.
But Bunawan Mayor Edwin Elorde yesterday said he would vigorously oppose the plan.
“We would never agree to that,” he told the Inquirer in a phone interview. “But there is no official request yet and they have not asked if we (Bunawan local government) would agree or not.”
Elorde said he is scheduled to meet with DENR officials next week but Lolong’s transfer is not among the topics up for discussion.
“I will first have to consult my constituents but if you ask me, I really won’t agree,” he said.
Lolong, was named after crocodile hunter Ernesto “Lolong” Conate, who suffered a stroke days before his team captured the crocodile in the Agusan Marsh.
Elorde said the largest crocodile in captivity should remain in his town because Bunawan residents had exerted tremendous efforts, from capturing the reptile to building it a large pen in the town’s eco-park.
Besides, Lolong has proven to be a cash machine for the once sleepy town, he said.
“Business has started to grow, there are now many transport vehicles and even a modest hotel is currently under construction,” Elorde said.
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