Communities and the local government of Balabac—the southernmost municipality of Palawan province—agreed on conservation actions to protect their two prominent wild fauna: the saltwater crocodiles and the endangered Philippine mouse-deer, which is endemic to the islands of Balabac.
At the consultation and planning workshop held in Balabac and facilitated by the Protect Wildlife project and Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, wildlife experts from Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center, Crocodylous Porosus Philippines, and De La Salle University presented the results of population studies for both saltwater crocodiles and the mouse-deer. They explained before community members, government officials, indigenous groups and law enforcement units how human-induced threats, such as encroachment into crocodile territories, hunting, and deforestation in mouse-deer habitats, are driving the frequent crocodile attacks in Balabac and the declining population of the mouse-deer. They also emphasized the importance of crocodiles in promoting nutrient flows necessary for fisheries, and how removing crocodiles from the wild can create imbalance in their territories and further aggravate human-crocodile conflicts.
Driven by the renewed appreciation for their local wildlife, the participants worked on draft action plans for both species, including steps to declare local conservation areas in Balabac and ordinances that would strengthen protection of wildlife habitats. (PWP/ Lawrence San Diego)