|‘Lolong belongs to us’
By Ben Serrano The Philippine Star Updated August 02, 2012 12:00 AM
BUNAWAN, Agusan del Sur, Philippines – The chairman of Barangay Nueva Era here insisted yesterday that “Lolong,” the world’s largest crocodile in captivity, belongs to the people of Agusan del Sur.
Barangay captain Teopanes Adlawan, who led his constituents in helping crocodile experts capture the 20.3-foot saltwater crocodile, vowed to oppose any move to transfer Lolong from a one-hectare pen in Agusan del Sur to the 22.7-hectare Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City.
“We will surely oppose any plan to transfer Lolong. The crocodile belongs to Agusan del Sur, not Metro Manila,” Adlawan told The STAR.
Reports earlier said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was studying to move Lolong to the Quezon City park.
Bunawan Mayor Edwin Elorde said that if not for the help of the residents of Barangay Nueva Era, Lolong would not have been captured.
“As far as we are concerned, the plan to transfer Lolong to Manila is a dead issue to us,” Elorde said.
Elorde and Adlawan said although they know that the DENR has the best intention for Lolong, it is doing well under their care.
The municipal government has built a P100,000 comfort room from gate proceeds at the Bunawan Eco-Park.
Adlawan also strongly rejected the proposal of animal rights groups to free Lolong back to the wild.
“It is a dangerous proposal, they are endangering not only our livestock but also people’s lives” he added.
He said Lolong was captured in Agusan Marsh in September last year after residents believed that the reptile was responsible for a young girl’s death and the disappearance of a fisherman in Bunawan village.
Meanwhile, Elorde said the lives of the residents are again in danger following sightings of a nuisance crocodile in the area.
“There is another one (crocodile) out there that we are looking for. I fear for the safety of the residents,” said Elorde during his visit to the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) office in Quezon City recently.
He added that Lolong’s companion was lingering in Barangay Nueva Era.
Agusan villagers believe that Lolong has a bigger companion in Agusan Marsh and probably a female crocodile.
Adlawan asked the PAWB to allow them to start searching for the nuisance crocodile in their village.
Mundita Lim, director of PAWB, said an independent study would be conducted to verify the report. – With Rhodina Villanueva