BUNAWAN, Agusan del Sur (MindaNews / 12 Feb) – Despite calls from animal welfare groups that Lolong must be returned to his natural habitat, the Agusan Marsh, Bunawan Mayor Edwin Elorde said he does not have any regrets for keeping Lolong at the town’s Eco Park.
Lolong, the world’s largest crocodile in captivity, died last Sunday at the park.
After Lolong capture’s in a creek in barangay Nueva Era here on September 2, 2011, several groups like the Animal Foundation, Inc. and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, among others, had been calling for the release of Lolong and let him live in his natural habitat.
But Elorde was not convinced, saying that had he set Lolong free in the wild, fisherfolks in the Agusan Marsh would surely kill the reptile, as what happened to other crocodiles in the past.
The mayor said he witnessed how fisherfolks killed 19-foot crocodile way back in 2002, when he was still president of the Association of Barangay Councils. “In fact I got some pieces of its flesh after people butchered the crocodile. I got two kilos,” he told MindaNews.
Elorde said he shares the sentiments of the animal welfare groups as far as protecting crocodiles is concerned, but stressed they may have different solutions.
He said that the municipal government’s move regarding Lolong was based on recommendations by experts.
Elorde pointed out that it is not the policy of the municipal government to collect wildlife for commercial purposes.
“As Bunawanon, I love to protect and preserve the wildlife. The crocodiles are part of the our ecosystem. We have been aggressive in our campaign to protect the wildlife in the Agusan Marsh,” he stressed.
The mayor, during the press conference on Monday, shed tears as he announced Lolong’s death, saying he considered Lolong as his son. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)