World’s biggest croc in danger, says mayor
Bunawan, Agusan del Sur—“Lolong,” cordoned and padlocked in a pen, faces danger from intruders who may want to harm the 6.4-meter-long saltwater crocodile, according to Mayor Edwin Elorde.
“There could be saboteurs out there who may want to cut short the star power of our catch,” Elorde said.
“Maybe some sectors want Lolong dead,” he added.
The mayor suggested that his political opponents may be planning to discredit his efforts on behalf of Lolong, a one-ton saltwater crocodile that was caught by hunters in the Agusan marsh on Sept. 3 and is now under the care of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau.
Local officials plan to make Lolong the star of an ecotourism park they want to set up in the town.
“Saboteurs might just poison Lolong in his cage, or they will blame us and say if we did not take Lolong from the wild, he would not have died,” Elorde said.
The mayor said the local government has to take care and would be enforcing tougher measures to secure Lolong.
Aside from surround lights, Elorde plans to install four closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras in the crocodile’s pen to monitor its movements and the people approaching it.
Caregivers need ID passes with Elorde’s signature to gain access to the pen.
And because Lolong has not eaten for more than a week now, public viewing is limited so as not to stress him out.
The monster crocodile has drawn a large number of local tourists and with them the usual crowds of vendors selling food and cigarettes. Even at night, locals press at the crude entrance asking to be let in.
“We have come from another town just to see Lolong, but they won’t let us in,” Ando Bungabong said.
“It’s already night but we can’t ignore their call,” a caretaker said. The group made it in upon Elorde’s approval.
Even as local environment officials tell villagers near the marsh to be careful of preying crocodiles, Elorde brims with optimism over the planned eco-park in Barangay Consuelo, with Lolong as the main attraction, to boost tourism in the town.
“Also, a view deck will rise in the marsh vicinity to allow tourists to view crocodiles in their basking areas,” the mayor said.
“For now, Lolong will stay here. He is at his best condition here. I won’t allow more people to go missing or be eaten alive in the marsh,” he said.
The Bunawan municipal government plans to stage the first Giant Festival in honor of Lolong next year in time for the town’s founding anniversary.
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