12 rare baby crocodiles freed in Isabela lake | Inquirer News
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12 rare baby crocodiles freed in Isabela lake

/ 09:38 PM January 19, 2014

SAN MARIANO,Philippines—Seven-year-old Josh Geronimo held a baby Philippine crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis) here on Saturday and exclaimed, “Oh, it smells good.”

Geronimo, a Canadian citizen, said the crocodile did not emit any foul odor or reeked of fishy smell but he complained about the reptile’s scaly body, which he described as spiny.

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Geronimo was among the guests who witnessed the release of 12 baby Philippine crocodiles into the Dunoy Lake in Barangay (village) Dibuluan in this town in Isabela province on Saturday.

Staff members of  Mabuwaya Foundation, students from  Isabela State University and  Leiden University in The Netherlands, and representatives of Zoos Victoria in Australia also joined the event.

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Mabuwaya Foundation, a conservation organization based in Isabela, was established by Isabela State University and Leiden University to lead Philippine crocodile conservation.

Dominic Rodriguez, Mabuwaya Foundation conservation manager, said the initiative to release 12 baby Philippine crocodiles, which measure a foot to a foot-and-a-half long each, would help the endemic species grow in their natural habitat.

Merlijn Van Weerd, Mabuwaya Foundation executive director, said the crocodiles were born in the wild in San Mariano but had been raised under the care of the foundation’s trained staff members to increase the chances of their survival.

“Now, two years after they were born, they are large enough to withstand the dangers that threaten them, such as predators,” Van Weerd said.

In a statement, the foundation said the reptiles’ release would help in the recovery of the wild Philippine crocodile population in San Mariano “and will further increase the importance of [this town] as a hot spot of threatened endemic wildlife.”

Research by  Mabuwaya Foundation said San Mariano is among the areas with the highest diversity of endemic species in the Philippines. It said the Philippine crocodile is the rarest crocodile species in the world, with its wild population estimated at less than 250 adults.

The foundation said the population of this critically endangered species has been limited to southwestern Mindanao and northern Luzon.

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It is a  species different from the saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) that is also seen in the Philippines. Villamor Visaya Jr., Inquirer Northern Luzon

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ONE OF 12 baby Philippine crocodiles released into their natural habitat in Dunoy Lake in Barangay Dibuluan in San Mariano town, Isabela province, on Jan. 18 VILLAMOR VISAYA JR. / Inquirer Northern Luzon

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TAGS: Crocodiles, Dunoy Lake, Mabuwaya Foundation, News, Regions
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