Hunt launched for man-eating crocodile that killed Palawan fisherman

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crocodile
The man-eating saltwater crocodile will be captured alive and taken to a sanctuary in Puerto Princesa. (File photograph from Wikimedia Commons)

A search is on to track down a man-eating saltwater crocodile that killed a fisherman on Balabac Island, in southernmost Palawan.

A joint team of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) and the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center (PWRCC) headed to the island today (Friday, November 30).

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PCSD spokesman Jovic Fabello said: “The main purpose of the operation is to locate and capture the problem crocodile.” 

He said the team had already consulted the local government and the family of the victim, and started “assessing the area and setting up traps” this afternoon.

Mr Fabello emphasised that the attack on Wednesday met the protocol for removing crocodiles in the wild.

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“The suspected crocodile is more than 10 feet long, the incident occurred during the courting season of crocodiles, the crocodile is not within its normal behaviour pattern, and it is always seen less than one kilometre away from the shoreline of the area,” he said.

The operation comes two days after the mutilated body of 33-year-old Cornelio Bonete, was discovered. His relatives had reported him missing after he checked his fishing boat on Tuesday and had failed to return home.

Bonete’s body was found with his right arm and left foot bitten off and the right foot was broken. There were also multiple bite marks all over his body.

Just the latest crocodile attack

Balabac is no stranger to saltwater crocodile attacks, having one of the largest populations of the reptiles in the Philippines.

Just last month, a 16-year-old school student survived an attack in the same village as this week’s killing.

Previously, in February, another fisherman was attacked and partially eaten, again in the same village.

Crocodile expert Rainier Manalo said this time of year was particularly dangerous, as it was beginning of the mating season. This lasts until February, while the egg-laying season falls in March until August.

“During this time crocodiles are very active and highly protective in their territories,” he said.

Mr Manalo is the head of Davao-based non-profit organisation Crocodylus Porosus Philippines.

The group has been recording years of crocodile attacks on the island, which they attribute to habitat loss, particularly of mangrove forests.

If captured, the man-eater will be taken to the crocodile farm — a sanctuary — in Puerto Princesa. 

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